The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media on Thursday expressed serious concerns "about the overall media freedom situation" in Croatia following the dismissal of the national broadcaster (HRT) director-general, Goran Radman, and the government's proposal that the legislature dismisses the current make-up of the Croatian Electronic Media Council.
Last week, Radman was relieved by the parliament of his duties. The procedure for Radman's dismissal had been initiated by the HRT Supervisory Board, saying that the HRT had violated the law by not keeping separate accounts for public and commercial revenues.
This Thursday, the government negatively assessed a report on the work of the Electronic Media Council and the Electronic Media Agency for 2014 and proposed to parliament to replace all Electronic Media Council members due to serious omissions in the execution of its legal obligations.
"These actions by the authorities raise serious concerns about the overall media freedom situation in the country," the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Dunja Mijatovic, said in a press release.
Mijatovic calls "on the authorities to take immediate action to reverse this trend and to do their utmost to preserve independence of the public broadcaster and the broadcast regulator."
As for the latest decision regarding the electronic media regulator, Mijatovic finds it to be "a sudden decision" by the Croatian government proposing that the Parliament rejects a regular report of the Croatian Agency for the Electronic Media, to terminate the Agency's mandate and to dismiss its director.
"The independence of the broadcast regulator is a key element for media pluralism and freedom of the media,” the OSCE representative said.
"Any interference or pressure to terminate its mandate or dismiss its members can only be seen as a form of political pressure on the Agency and its independent decision making authority."