Tuesday, 1 June 2021

Žarko Puhovski: "Is PM Plenković's Attack on Lalić More Significant Than President Milanović's On Me"?

ZAGREB, 1 June, 2021 - Professor and political analyst Žarko Puhovski said on Monday that he was shocked by the statement signed by the Croatian Journalists' Union (SNH) and the Croatian Journalists' Association (HND), wondering if Plenković's attack on analyst Dražen Lalić was more significant than Milanović's on him.

"Is it really possible that (Prime Minister) Plenković's scandalous attack on Lalić is so much more significant than (President) Zoran Milanović's much dirtier continuous attacks on me in the past months, and in the former case you reacted in the blink of an eye, while in the latter not at all?" asked Puhovski in an open letter, adding that despite his years and experience, he is truly shocked by the statement the SNH co-signed today.

"I don't know if it's about likes/dislikes, ideology, stupidity or rudeness, but I didn't expect that from you at least," Puhovski told the SNH.

The HND and the SNH said earlier on Monday that they strongly condemned PM Andrej Plenković's attack on the media, interference in the editorial policy of commercial broadcasters RTL, Nova TV and N1 and criticism of the reporters and pundits covering campaigns in the run-up to the recent local election and the elections.

PM Andrej Plenković then said HND president Hrvoje Zovko's statement was "rude and inappropriate" and said he was "much quieter, slower and more evasive when it comes to criticising Milanović".

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Friday, 16 April 2021

The Croatian Journalists' Association (HND): "At Least 924 Law Actions Against Reporters and Media Outlets Currently Active"

ZAGREB, 16 April, 2021 - The Croatian Journalists' Association (HND) on Friday presented the results of its latest survey showing that there are currently at least 924 lawsuits against the media and reporters in Croatia with plaintiffs seeking HRK 78.5 million in damages.

The real number of lawsuits may be even greater because the data collected refers to only 23 media outlets, HND president Hrvoje Zovko said at a news conference in Zagreb.

The HND says on its website that "same as last year, Hanza Media has the highest number of lawsuits, 479 of them, with the average indemnity demands of 13,333 euro per lawsuit. Styria follows them with 203 lawsuits – the amounts of indemnity requests made to them result to almost € 2.7 million. In active litigation, the amount of claims ranges from several thousand kunas to even more than one million kunas, while the longest active litigation is currently in its 12th year." 

The HND will continue to warn the local and international public about that problem, said Zovko and called on all reporters for solidarity in the fight against that kind of intimidation.

HND secretary-general Ema Tarabochia reported that in February last year there were 905 law actions against media outlets and journalists . Even though this year's number is insignificantly higher, it is particularly concerning that such a number of active cases exists in any case, she said.

"Out of the total number of 924 lawsuits, 892 refer to civil actions against publishers, their editors and journalists, for compensation of damages due to violations of honor and reputation based on published texts and articles, while the remaining number of 32 lawsuits refers to currently active criminal proceedings. Among prosecutors, apart from natural persons unknown to the general public, the most prominent are persons from public and political life, followed by legal entities, politicians in power, even judges themselves," says the HND on its website.

Three active disputes against HND

The HRT national broadcaster has a lawsuit against Zovko seeking compensation of HRK 250,000 and HRK 200,000 from HND. In that same legal action HRT is seeking HRK 50,000 in damages from HTV reporters Sanja Mikleušević Pavić.

As HND said, this is a unique case where a public media service is suing one of its own employees but also a reporters' professional association.

Government should conduct education to prevent lawsuits occurring

Laywer and member of the European Commission expert group for SLAPP suits, Vanja Jurić said today that the government should conduct education for politicians, lawyers and judges in preventing lawsuits against reporters and the media and to have them realise that they need to be prepared to accept criticism.

She in particular warned of the danger of the Strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP).

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

 

Wednesday, 10 March 2021

Ministry of Culture and Media: "We Condemn All Violence, Clearer Procedures Needed"

ZAGREB, 10 March, 2021 - The Ministry of Culture and Media said, commenting of the dismissal of HRT reporter Hrvoje Zovko, that it condemned all forms of violence and abuse and advocated clearer procedures and equal treatment in all cases of suspected violence, adding that everyone must have the right to present a defence.

"The Ministry of Culture and Media condems all forms of violence and abuse. We think that every accusation must be investigated and sanctioned should it be substantiated in accordance with legal regulations. We advocate clearer procedures and equal treatment in all cases of suspected violence in the case at the HRT and in all other institutions," the Ministry said on Tuesday in response to HINA's query about the dismissal of Hrvoje Zovko, an employee of the HRT national broadcaster and the president of the Croatian Journalists' Association (HND).

At the same time, respecting the presumption of innocence, we stress that everyone must have an equal right to express and present their defence, the Ministry added.

They noted that they had been informed about the details of the procedure in the case of Hrvoje Zovko's dismissal from the media and once again underscore "the importance of equal treatment of all employees".

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Saturday, 12 September 2020

Journalism Proves to be of Exceptional Importance in COVID-19 Crisis, Hears Panel

ZAGREB, September 12, 2020 - Journalism has proven to be of exceptional importance in the coronavirus epidemic and it has shown the importance of timely and accurate information, it was said at a round table discussion, held as part of the 6th PRESS Film Festival in Zagreb on Friday.

"Journalism has proven to be of exceptional importance in the current crisis, it has shown the importance of timely and accurate information given that we are being bombarded on a daily basis with numerous conspiracy theories," Croatian Journalists Association (HND) president Hrvoje Zovko said.

Speaking at the panel, dedicated to media in global crises, journalist Hrvoje Simicevic expressed confidence that media worldwide would not have it easy in the financial crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic, which, he said, had sped up the decline of a large part of the traditional media sector.

 

Freelance reporters most affected group

Quoting the findings of a survey, Simicevic said that 80% of freelance reporters had been left without key income following the introduction of restrictions designed to fight the coronavirus.

Journalist Kresimir Zupcic said the survey, conducted by the HND and the Journalists Union, showed that 28.7% of external contractors in the media sector had been left without all of their assignments since the start of the crisis, 26.2% had lost most of their jobs and 15.9% had lost half of their previous jobs.

That means that around two-thirds of freelancers had been left without any, most or half of their jobs since the start of the COVID-19 crisis. It is alarming that one in three freelancers have been left without any income and only 14% have managed to keep most of their previous assignments, said Zupcic.

The PRESS Film Festival, which is usually held in Hrvatska Kostajnica, is organised by the HND and the EKS nongovernmental organisation. The festival, which lasts until September 13, is taking place at the HND offices in Zagreb.

The festival selector is film director Daniel Pavlic.

 

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Tuesday, 25 August 2020

HRT Must Reinstate Reporter, HND President Hrvoje Zovko

ZAGREB, Aug 25, 2020 - Croatian Journalists Association (HND) president Hrvoje Zovko said on Tuesday that the Rijeka County Court had rejected an appeal by the HRT public broadcaster, confirming that the HRT's having fired him in September 2018 was an unlawful decision and that he had to be reinstated. 

Zovko must be reinstated as editor-coordinator within eight days and the HRT must compensate him for the income lost, plus interest.

Zovko thanked the HND, the Croatian Journalists Union, international journalists' associations, and numerous colleagues for support.

He was fired in September 2018 after the HRT management made a decision on an instant dismissal of its reporter and HND president.

The dismissal was initiated based on a complaint by the editor-in-chief of Croatian Television's (HTV) news service, Katarina Perisa Cakarun.

Some ten days before that, Zovko tendered his resignation as the editor-in-chief of the HTV Channel 4, saying in a letter that his decision was due to pressure, censorship, an unprofessional choice of topics, lack of organisation and serious technical problems on Channel 4.

This was followed by a meeting with Perisa Cakarun, at which she accepted his resignation. However, only two hours later, Zovko was invited to a second meeting at which an argument erupted between him and Perisa Cakarun.

HRT said Zovko had been dismissed due to a grave breach of rules of office and conduct, a number of insults he said, inappropriate conduct and inappropriate and unprofessional statements, adding that the incident happened during working hours in HRT offices.

The HRT Staff Council voted against Zovko's dismissal but its opinion was not binding on the HRT management.

With its ruling, the Rijeka County Court has upheld a 2019 ruling which said that Zovko had been fired unlawfully.

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