RTCG Council: Rights of journalist Cirovic were violated, abolish Lekovic discipline procedure

Photo: www.rtcg.me

PODGORICA, April 24, 2019 – The management of the Public Broadcasting Service and the representatives of both unions have reached an agreement on the Collective Agreement, and the harmonized version was sent to the Ministry of Finance, RTCG General Manager Bozidar Sundic said at today’s session of the Public Service Council.

Sundic pointed out that it was agreed that some coefficients would increase, and that he hopes that after the holiday, after receiving the opinion of the Ministry, the contract will be signed and that the employees will receive the June salary according to the new Collective Agreement.

“I am pleased that we managed to finish this to the satisfaction of all RTCG employees,“ said the general manager.

He explained that there were no significant changes in the job systematization.

Violation of rights of journalist Ćirović, disagreeing about Leković case

At today’s session of the Council of Radio-Television of Montenegro, complaints were addressed to TVCG journalists Zoran Leković and Nevenka Ćirović. Ćirović, in a letter to the Council, claims that in her TV report, which was broadcasted in Dnevnik, the statement of EU Ambassador to Montenegro Aivo Orav, was censured, while Lekovic told the RTCG Council that his management and editorial staff were setting guests and topics, and that the program “Okvir” was directed by someone outside the Public Service.

Council members Milan Radovic and Goran Sekulovic agreed that censorship occured.

“For the first time since I have been in the Council, we have documented that censorship has been carried out,” Radovic said.

Goran Sekulovic estimated that this was unnecessary, unacceptable and harmful to the house.

“It was completely deplored, even harmful to the one who has done so, harmful to the media house, a big auto-goal, it should be sanctioned from the top of the house, no matter who and when it comes, it is inadmissible“, Sekulovic said.

TVCG director Slavko Djurdjic pointed out that the Council violated Article 59 of the Statute RTCG. He states that, according to this document, the employee is obliged to contact the superiors first. If he does not receive an answer within 7 days then, as he said, a reporter can contact the Council.

“Here the term of censorship is easily used. The editor who does the show estimates the minutes and if necessary shortens the TV report. That sentence was missing from Orav, but I was told that it was already in more of our news programs. Since the topic was something else, the editor shortened it. The only mistake was that the editor should have informed Nevenka about the shortening”, Djurđić said.

He claims that there is no word about censorship.

“The attitude was not hidden, it was broadcast in earlier program, the problem was only the length of the attachments, the editor needed to call her, we have these practices, but they can never reach every journalist to inform them”, Djurdjic said.

Speaking about Lekovic’s statements, Djurdjic said that he would not prejudge the outcome of the disciplinary procedure that is underway.

“Lekovic hired three lawyers, I will not declare myself on this occasion, but publicly in the disciplinary procedure. If he gets the procedure, I will publicly apologize”, Djurdjic said.

Sekulovic agreed with Djurdjic on the issue of Lekovic.

“The circumstances that do not go hand in hand with the reputation of the house have come to fruition. Ten times it is let go, once it is gone, then one becomes the case”, Sekulovic said.

Council member Vladimir Pavicevic reminded Djurdjic of Article 61 which, he adds, means that journalists can seek protection of the Council.

“Was the Orav statement in prior broadcasts are not important, because it is a case that has raised a lot of public attention”, Pavicevic said.

Radovic believes that Lekovic and Ćirović are under pressure of this and earlier management.

„My conclusion is because of their work that is not contrary to the public interest“, said Radovic.

General Director of the RTCG, Bozidar Sundic, said that these journalists did not address him and he thinks they should. He pointed out that the shortening of the TV report is not a censorship. Sundic believes that these topics are exclusively under the authority of the Director-General and suggested that he speak with Lekovic and Ćirović and inform the Council about this.

Council President Ivan Jovetic believes that in case of Ćirović there was a misconduct.

The Council of  Radio-Television of Montenegro believes that in the case of Nevenka Ćirović were violated the rights of the journalist and asked to initiate the procedure for protection. Five out of six members of the Council voted for.

In the case of Zoran Lekovic, members of the Council believe that they do not have enough information to make a decision, and this body did not conclude that his rights were violated. Only two Council members think that rights of Lekovic were violated.

The general director said that the decision to abolish the disciplinary procedure on Lekovic is on him, and he said that he would talk with Leković and Ćirović.

“I will try to get out of the situation with conversation, but we must not treat any failure, if we do not sanction it. If a failure is made, those responsible will be punished”, said Sundic.

www.rtcg.me, Podgorica, 24/04/2019