Electronic Media Council Members Receive Death Threats

By 21 December 2018

ZAGREB, December 21, 2018 - The Electronic Media Council said on Friday its members had received death threats following their decision to take six local television stations off the air for up to 24 hours over hate speech targeting migrants.

The programme in question was aired on November 6 and the six local TV stations had their broadcasting licences temporarily stripped on December 3. Three TV stations were taken off the air for 24 hours and three for four hours.

The threats were made by an as yet unidentified person or persons. They have been reported to the police and an investigation has been launched, the Council said in a statement.

The Council said that it would continue to perform its duties professionally and would not tolerate any hate speech in the public media sector regardless of its source or target.

Last month, after analysing the content of the talk show, which dealt with the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, the Electronic Media Council decided that claims made in the show, hosted by Velimir Bujanec, constituted hate speech because they described migrants as terrorists and criminals and as people who intentionally spread infectious diseases. The show's guests were Frano Ćirko, who was introduced as the leader of an organisation called Generacija Obnove, and Zoran Grgić, introduced as an independent analyst.

"The show host did not distance himself from such hate-mongering rhetoric, except for describing it as 'a bit radical', which cannot be considered an appropriate warning that such rhetoric is not allowed... the host himself set the tone of the discussion and incited hate-mongering, discriminatory and humiliating rhetoric against migrants," the Council said.

Its chair Josip Popovac stressed that the Council's decision in no way violated the freedom of speech, noting that there were no forbidden topics but that they should be dealt with professionally, which was not the case with the show in question.

Speaking of the accountability of the guests on the said show, Popovac said that he agreed with the proposal to report the case to the Chief State Prosecutor, noting that "such abuse of public media is unacceptable".

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