On the occasion of the latest events in the National Public Service Radio Television of Montenegro, which concern the public comments of journalist Zoran Lekovic on the certain contents of that media house, we express concern over the reaction of management towards colleague Lekovic.
On social media, he criticized the way of reporting of the Television of Montenegro, related to several program contents, which in his opinion, is not in accordance with the professional standards of the journalistic profession.
Lekovic’s speech was preceded by the resignation of the head of the board, Bojan Terzic. Colleague Terzic cited, among other things, the broadcasting of the disputed content in Dnevnik 2 on October 6, 2020, which he was responsible for, as the reason for his resignation. Such an act speaks of a serious discrepancy between the requirements of the management and the journalistic code of the news program editor. This is about expressing the freedom of opinion of journalists who have decided to take a certain reaction, which we believe arose from professional and moral reasons, although it can be discussed whether Terzic had had greater reasons for such a thing before.
The reactions of colleagues Lekovic and Terzic are based on the European Convention on Human Rights, Article 10, and the Law on the National Public Broadcaster RTCG, Article 16, which refers to the independence of journalists, and says: “Journalists employed in RTCG are independent in their work and act in the public interest. A journalist may not be dismissed, his salary reduced, his status in the editorial office changed or his responsibility determined due to an attitude or opinion expressed in accordance with professional standards and program rules ”.
A procedure was initiated for the removal of Zoran Lekovic from the position of editor of the Economic Editorial Office, and he was asked to leave the office he has been using for the last 10 years. Also, all recordings for the show Business Zone, which he edits, and which was removed from the program, have been canceled. In the Dnevnik 2 08.10.2020, the private content of journalist Lekovic was broadcast without his knowledge and approval in order to compromise and discredit his personality. These are the direct consequences of Lekovic’s freely expressed opinion.
One of the most important tasks of the SMCG is to warn employers, whatever the media, not to apply repressive measures against their employees who express their opinions on certain topics in a civilized manner in accordance with professional standards or in relation to editorial policies that can seriously disturb a significant portion of the public. Through such activities, journalists contribute to the improvement of the media scene in Montenegro and raising the level of objectivity of the journalistic profession.
Our recommendation is that the leaders of RTCG give up repressive activities, especially since the recent report of the European Commission on the right to freedom of speech and opinion commented on the disciplinary proceedings against two journalists of that media (one of them is Zoran Lekovic) who criticized the documentary broadcast in March 2020, produced by RTCG. The report states, among other things: “Although the procedure did not result in sanctions, its initiation is a matter of concern.” Together, we need to show that we are committed to the rule of law and freedom of the media, which is emphasized by Oliver Varhelyi, the European Commissioner for EU Enlargement, who is talking about this topic today with the representatives of the Montenegrin authorities.
SMCG Main Board