Regional Platform condemns storming of the RTS building


The Western Balkan’s Regional Platform for Advocating Media Freedom and Journalists’ Safety, which represents more than 8000 members, condemns the entry into the Serbian public service broadcaster Radio Television Serbia (RTS) by protesters.

The incident took place on Saturday, 16.03.2019 after the anti-government protests 1 of 5 million when a group of protesters gathered in front of the RTS building and entered it with a request to allow their leaders to address the public in a live broadcast. During the incident, the police force was deployed and after hours’ long confrontation, protesters left the building. No journalists were physically harmed. The police arrested 18 persons for participation in the incidents that took place over the weekend.

The latest development is a culmination of three months-long protests against the Serbian regime and unsuccessful requests to the public broadcaster to secure media pluralism in accordance with the law. Demands of the protest leaders to be hosted in the programme are yet to be met by RTS.

„On numerous occasions we warned the public broadcaster to uphold journalism standards and law and to resist political pressures by reporting in public interest comprehensively, timely and truthfully“- said Zeljko Bodrozic, acting president of the Independent Journalists Association of Serbia and added „However, violent entry into the RTS premises is not acceptable nor appropriate for democratic societies. It cannot be a part of any civilized solutions and we condemn it.”

The Western Balkan’s Regional Platform for Advocating Media Freedom and Journalists’ Safety recognizes the complexity of the current situation in Serbia and joins IJAS in condemnation of this incident. We call upon the protestors to respect media workers and refrain from incidents that can easily turn violent. At the same time, we call upon the Radio Television of Serbia management to respect the law and open its studio to all political parties and representatives of citizens. We remind RTS that by not providing full coverage of the on-going protests Serbia-wide, public service broadcaster is not acting in the public interest and serving the Serbian citizens.

Independent Journalists Association of Serbia registered 10 incidents in 2019, one physical assault on journalists, 8 verbal threats and one attack on a media property.

Any attack on a journalist is a direct attack on freedom of expression and the right of citizens to be informed.

Skoplje – Beograd – Podgorica – Prishtina – Sarajevo- Zagreb, 19.03.2019.

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