N1 Zagreb news director, Tihomir Ladisic, reacted on Monday to the statements by Culture and Media Minister Nina Obuljen-Korzinek given in an interview to public broadcaster HRT’s programme “Nedjeljom u 2” (Sunday at 2) aired on Sunday, July 4.
Read the full statement below:
Answering a question on the electronic media law and the fate of N1, Obuljen-Korzinek on Sunday said:
“At the moment when the law is being amended, (N1’s director or editor-in-chief is creating pressure) to amend the law in a way that would benefit their owner, who knew the rules when entering the Croatian market. It’s a lot like this situation with bags being carried around.”
We have heard a lot of irresponsible statements in the Croatian media space. But, these words are coming from the Culture and Media Minister who is at the same time calling for responsibility for public statements, a fight against fake news, and media professionalism.
N1 is an independent and free media outlet which has, due to its journalists’ commitment and hard work, become the leading cable channel in Croatia. It is not financed by public money, it does not collect subscription fees, it has never taken a single lipa from the state.
But the minister is reminded of “bags being carried around,” referring to the latest investigation on corruption which led to the arrest of the HRT director. Bags containing money and documents with demands were brought, according to media reports on the investigation, to the office of the late Zagreb Mayor Milan Bandic, banks, but also to the Culture and Media Ministry. Because the investigation is ongoing, he have heard no details on the issue. But the Minister is feeling N1’s pressure which to her looks like “the situation with bags being carried around.”
N1 has called on the amendments to the law on electronic media in the interest of the public, audiences, democratic society, and media freedom. The provision on full and unconditional ban on vertical integration, which is in force in Croatia, does not exist anywhere else in Europe.
At the height of a local elections campaign, as one of two cable providers which together control 90 percent of the market has taken N1 off air, Minister Obuljen-Korzinek claimed that the passing of the new law was a question of procedure which would last two, three, four weeks. She added she was hoping the law would be in procedure soon.
It has been more than three months since then and the law has still not made it into parliament.
The Culture Minister was not telling the truth then, and she is not telling the truth now.
Publicly and transparently, we have called on the launching of tender for granting new licences for Free-to-air (FTA) frequencies. The Minister’s response to that call was to say it “reminds her” of carrying bags in corruption deals.
This response illustrates not only that this country lacks quality media legal framework in line with European values, but also that the existing system is still being protected, instead of (creating) a free media market without political control and influence.
With this statement, the Minister is directly influencing telecommunication companies during negotiations on distribution of N1, as well as the Electronic Media Agency as an independent regulator.