Government Crisis Spreading to Croatian Radio Television as Well

By 14 June 2016

Government is not the only institution which could soon lose its leadership.

The Supervisory Board of Croatian Radio Television (HRT) has decided to annul the public competition for the new HRT director general, because the Parliamentary Committee on Media did not propose its candidate to Parliament within 45 days, as was stipulated in the competition, reports tportal.hr on June 14, 2016.

“The deadline expired on 13 June at midnight. We will announce a new competition within the next 30 days, and then we will see what will happen”, said Miroslav Grgić, the Supervisory Board’s legal expert.

If the situation is not resolved, that could lead to a governance crisis at HRT. It is obvious that problems in the ruling coalition have spread to the public broadcaster as well. On Friday, the Parliamentary Committee did not have a quorum needed for making decisions, because MOST and SDP members did not come to the meeting.

Three days later, Siniša Kovačić, the acting director general of HRT, dismissed his closest associate Jozo Barišić, acting director of programme, allegedly due to “the need for a more active fulfilment of the objectives of the public broadcaster”. When the two of them were appointed to their positions several months ago, there were reports that Kovačić was proposed by HDZ and Barišić by MOST.

Kovačić can be the acting director until 5 September at the latest, when his six-month term of office ends. If there are early elections, the dissolution of Parliament, or if parties simply cannot agree on a new name by early September, there could be a management crisis at HRT. “It is not even necessary for Parliament to be dissolved. It is enough that Parliament does not elect a new director general, and there will be no one to manage HRT”, said Grgić.

There is a possibility that the current director general could appoint one member of the board of directors as his deputy, but the problem is that the appointment would be annulled the very moment when acting director general’s term ends.

“Given the fact that HRT also performs some commercial operations, perhaps we could use the Companies Act and ask a court to appoint an administrator. We will consult with legal experts and send letters to the Ministry of Culture, Ministry of Public Administration, the Commercial Court and the Parliamentary Committee on Media”, concluded Grgić.