Friday, 13 August 2021

HND, SNH Slam Sacking of Two Reporters and Cameraman at Local TV Station

ZAGREB, 13 Aug 2021 - The Croatian Journalists' Association (HND) and the Croatian Journalists' Trade Union (SNH) on Friday condemned the decision of the owner of the Televizija Šibenik on the extraordinary dismissal without prior notice of two journalists and a television camera operator.

Addressing a news conference the HND leader Hrvoje Zovko said that journalists were "fed up with local power-mongers who tailor local media coverage" and compared the case of TV Šibenik with the recent developments in the Pula-based Glas Istre newspaper in which some reporters were fired.

Zovko strongly condemned the move of the TV Šibenik owner Stipe Grcić to bar one of the dismissed reporters -- Lucija Cvitan -- from entering the broadcaster's premises, and pointed out a label put on the door of the editorial room reading that Cvitan is "a persona non grata".

Zovko and Cvitan told today's news conference that this label was particularly disparaging and the European Federation of Journalists would be informed of this action of the media outlet's owner, if he failed to remove it immediately.

The HND chief said that the actions of Grcić and the TV Šibenik were scandalous, particularly having in mind the fact that the media outlet was partly funded from the state budget.

Zovko added that they had sent a request to Grcić last night to give his comment on the case but he had not sent any response until the start of the news conference.

Cvitan said that before being sacked she had not received any notice. I sent an e-mail asking or amending my employment contract for June. The reply sent after that was that I was no longer an employee of the TV Šibenik, she said adding that after that the disparaging label appeared on the editorial room.

"I want the stain to be removed from my name. I have have worked conscientiously," said Cvitan.

The other sacked reporter, Ivana Bulat, was fired during her sick leave.

The SNH leader Maja Sever said that the key to such problems appearing in local media outlets would be the conclusion of collective agreements regulating all the rights and entitlements of journalists.

For more on politics, CLICK HERE.

Wednesday, 2 June 2021

Opposition: It's Not Good That PM Plenković is Trying to Intimidate Media

ZAGREB, 2 June, 2021 - Recent frequent attacks on media, reporters and political analysts by Prime Minister Andrej Plenković were met on Wednesday with condemnation by opposition MPs, who called on him to accept criticism and on media not to allow to be intimidated.

Social Democrat Arsen Bauk said the prime minister had opted for the "attack is the best form of defence" approach.

"Some defeats at local elections are painful for the HDZ, notably the prime minister, because he chose or imposed some of the candidates. It is not good for the prime minister, who has both objective and real power, to try to square accounts with or intimidate reporters, media and their editors and owners. I hope you will not let yourself be intimidated by him," Bauk told reporters in the parliament.

Judging by their response, I can see that they are not intimidated, he said, adding that he was fascinated by Plenković's claim that rival broadcasters had colluded to devalue the HDZ's candidate for Zagreb mayor.

Stephen Bartulica of the Homeland Movement said that media were possibly responsible for the latest developments because they had been very mild towards Plenković from the start.

"I definitely support media freedoms and it is not unusual that media in Croatia and the rest of the world are leaning to the left, but I think that what is more important here are the so-called independent analysts who often have material interests and certain relations with political camps and NGOs and who act in public as if they were unbiased," said Bartulica.

The sole MP of the Reformists party, Natalija Martinčević, who chairs the parliamentary Media Committee, said that the prime minister was very nervous, which she considers inappropriate.

"Communication with the media must be civilised. We are all expected to behave that way and so is the prime minister. There is no justification for his behaviour," she said.

Most MP Marija Selak Raspudić said that media had been the PM's fetish for a long time.

"Let me remind you of his high school graduation thesis 'Means of Mass Communication' in which, apart from extensively quoting (Yugoslav Communist politician Edvard) Kardelj and Marx, he also says that the Party is the one to control all information in society. He then advocates some democratic trends and says that media should be democratised, but it seems that as an experienced politician he has accepted the principle that the Party should control all information and is surprised when he does not manage to do it," said Selak Raspudić.

HSLS MP Dario Hrebak said that every politician had their own style of communication, noting that the prime minister was evidently irritated by something.

"I, too, am sometimes unhappy with the media but everyone has the right to say what they think, I would not be a liberal if I thought differently," he said, adding that he believed the prime minister would mend his relationship with the media and some reporters.

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

Tuesday, 1 June 2021

European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) Joins in Condemning PM Plenković's Statements

ZAGREB, 1 June, 2021 - The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) has joined the Croatian Journalists Association (HND) and the Croatian Journalists Union (SNH) in condemning Prime Minister Andrej Plenković's verbal attacks on media and reporters after the local runoff election on 30 May.

The HND said on its website that EFJ Secretary-General Ricardo Gutiérrez described as "totally unacceptable that journalists are being attacked by both the Prime Minister and, just recently, the President of Croatia."

"Blaming journalists in this way is an attempt to undermine their credibility in order to limit their role as a counterweight. To insult or threaten journalists is to insult and threaten citizens, and to undermine the right of citizens to access free, independent information," the HND quoted Gutiérrez as saying.

The EFJ said on its website that shortly after the second round of local elections in Croatia, Plenković once again attacked the media, accusing them of "being paid to vilify a political camp" and accusing Dražen Lalić, an analyst and professor at the Zagreb Faculty of Political Science, of being paid by broadcasters to smear HDZ candidates, targeting also HND president Hrvoje Zovko, who strongly condemned his attack on the media.

The EFJ carried a statement issued on Monday by the HND and SNH in which the two organisations deplored "the open threats PM Plenkovic has made against all our colleagues and media which do not follow his and the HDZ's ideology.

"To name all those who critically speak about candidates ahead of elections and to mark as targets 'those who calumniate people for money' is not the kind of discourse that should be used by politicians, let alone prime ministers of civilised and democratic EU countries," the two organisations said in the statement carried by the EFJ.

The EFJ also quoted the HND and SNH as saying that such attacks only show Plenković and his HDZ party's ambition "to completely control the public sphere and determine the limits of media freedoms in Croatia".

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

Tuesday, 1 June 2021

Political Science Association Slams PM Andrej Plenković's Statements

ZAGREB, 1 June, 2021 - The Croatian Political Science Association (HPD) on Tuesday strongly condemned the criticism PM Andrej Plenković levelled against political scientist Dražen Lalić and the RTL broadcaster, noting that it was an attack not only on an individual but on all political scientists as well as media.  

The HPD recalled Plenković's statement that "RTL hired Lalić to vilify (HDZ candidate for Zagreb mayor Davor) Filipović in the worst way possible" and his remark that "those are not unbiased media" but "hirelings paid to demonise a political camp."

"Such an unsubstantiated verbal attack by the Prime Minister against our member and prominent Croatian researcher was not only an ad hominem attack - which  as such makes his criticism invalid - but also an attack on the right to express one's opinion and on intellectual freedom. With his inappropriate act, Andrej Plenković has threatened the freedom to express one's professional views and additionally weakened the already weak position of the media," the association said.

It also notes that, considering the disproportion of powers, this type of attack by the PM on a member of the academic community and public intellectual has the potential to instil fear and insecurity in members of the academic community and media alike.

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

Tuesday, 1 June 2021

PM Andrej Plenković: Media Are Not Sacrosanct

ZAGREB, 1 June, 2021 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković told reporters on Monday evening that earlier in the day, when he was commenting on the elections, he was telling the truth and that amounted to no attack on the media because the media, he said, were not sacrosanct that couldn't be talked about.

"I was just telling the truth," Plenković said when asked by reporters whether he had gone too far  when commenting on the elections and criticisng several commercial broadcasters.

All those I talked about, including your broadcaster (RTL), used the wrong name of HDZ's candidate for Zagreb mayor in their shows, he said, adding that it had happened several times, even on another TV station and in some print media.

He said "these weren't slips of the tongue" and added that these things had clearly happened "on purpose". "This isn't criticism, I was telling the truth, it isn't an attack on the media. The media aren't sacrosanct so that we cannot talk about it," Plenković said.

Commenting on the statement that the Croatian Journalists' Association (HND) called on him not do it and that it was not his first time, Plenković said that that was "a rude and inappropriate statement by the HND president, who is much more slower and evasive when it comes to criticising (President Zoran) Milanović".

Milanović, he stressed, calls out on the media in a much harsher way. He calls the HRT Yutel, HRT reporters mercenaries of a political party, he calls daily newspapers usurers, he calls on your leadership to remove commentator (Žarko) Puhovski and after that I no longer see him in your (RTL) programme, Plenković said.

He said that HND president Hrvoje Zovko was "much more considerate" when it came to reacting to Milanović. Here he dares to talk about me as Lukashenko, Plenković noted, adding that this was going beyond all bounds, which could be classified as being biased.

It is one thing when those running in the election face off in a political match, and another when someone who presents himself as an independent analyst to the viewers, and they don't know whether you are paying him for it, describes a candidate before the elections in the worst possible way, Plenković said, referring to Dražen Lalić's comments for the RTL.

He recalled that it was not unusual for the media in the world to follow one political option.

There are no newspapers in the world for which one doesn't know whether they're left-wing or conservative, he said.

We cannot, he said, live in the belief that everyone is neutral, impartial, objective and in reality they support some option. "One shouldn't be ashamed of that, but it must be clearly stated," Plenković added.

There are double standards

Plenković also thinks that the media had been generating aggression toward the HDZ and the two key candidates in two big cities.

He said that the public had to realise there were double standards.

Asked to comment on Ivica Puljak's victory in Split, he countered with a question -- how can he have an anti-Semite for deputy mayor.

"The man practically wrote a justification for the Holocaust, and if you don't realise that, then you have a dangerous problem," Plenković said, adding that if it was happening elsewhere, "all associations would attack Puljak".

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

Friday, 7 May 2021

Culture and Media Minister Nina Obuljen Koržinek: Concept of HRT Management Inaugurated During Zoran Milanović's Premiership

ZAGREB, 7 May (Hina) - Culture and Media Minister Nina Obuljen Koržinek said on Friday that she was shocked by President Zoran Milanović's attack on the HRT public broadcaster, adding that she had always stood up for press freedom.

"The government has no ambition whatsoever to influence any media outlet in Croatia. Quite the contrary, I believe that we strengthen democracy and all the values in society if we try to ensure conditions for reporters to do their job professionally and without any pressure," Obuljen Koržinek said after a ceremony of opening a library in the town of Delnice.

She condemned Milanović's statements in which he attacked an HRT correspondent in Split, refusing to answer her questions and saying that the HRT was not a public broadcaster but was serving the interests of the ruling Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ).

"I think that Milanović is the last person who can call out anybody," Obuljen Koržinek said, stressing that the concept and legislative framework for the HRT management had been inaugurated during his term as prime minister.

She went on to say that in her capacity as the minister of culture and media, she had always stood up for the autonomy of the media, notably reporters.

Union leader: Milanović attacks journalists who are not responsible for HRT's policy

Croatian Journalists' Union leader and HRT reporter Maja Sever said on Thursday that the reporters whom Milanović verbally attacked earlier in the day were not responsible for the public broadcaster's editorial policy and that he was among those who had failed to ensure HRT's autonomy. 

Also on Thursday, the Journalists' Union and the Croatian Journalists' Association (HND) branch at the HRT condemned Milanović's statements, but also noted that the HRT under current director Kazimir Bačić was not an independent public service and that the government led by PM Andrej Plenković was responsible for that.

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



Wednesday, 17 June 2020

Croatian Gov. In Secret Meeting Urged Media To Fall In Line Ahead of Coronavirus Response

June 17, 2020 — The Croatian government in a secretive mid-March meeting reportedly tried to guide journalists’ coverage of the coronavirus outbreak and the measures meant to fight it. Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic and nearly every minister allegedly nudged news organizations towards a narrative of a competent government helming the COVID-19 response. The press obliged.

Government representatives, led by Plenković, held a secret meeting with editors-in-chief of print news and national television and radio on March 17 according to Index, at which the HDZ chief and members of his government instructed media editors on how to report during a coronavirus epidemic.

Croatia ranks 59th in 2020’s Reporters Without Borders World Press Freedom Index, well behind many of its EU peers. The organization’s report says journalists are regularly subjected to harassment and lawsuits which open the door to financially punishing reporters for doing their jobs.

The government also controls many spigots of advertising money via publicly-controlled monopolies such as Zagreb Holding and FINA. Media organizations in the government’s good graces often receive advertising orders from these entities. Those with the temerity to do their jobs miss out.

It’s exactly the sort of environment which makes secretive meetings between the press and government ahead of a battery of controversial measures, at best, confounding.

Three months after Index Investigations asked the government for information on the details of the meeting and after two complaints to the Office of the Information Commissioner, this week, after Plenković's Office persistently ignored our inquiries, Index finally received some details about the meeting.

The government sent the site list of participants, but not the minutes of the meeting. The government claims that there is no such record, which is very strange because it is an official meeting at the government premises.

Andrej Plenković, as the first man of the government, organized a meeting with the editors-in-chief of television stations, print media and radio broadcasters in Croatia, as the government assured Index, "on the activities undertaken to combat the coronavirus epidemic, as well as shared responsibilities in the fight against false news and timely and accurate public information on all the circumstances of the epidemic.”

The following people took part in the meeting in the government, as ordered in Plenković’s office: 

Goran Ogurlić — Jutarnji List

Dražen Klarić — Večernji List

Ivica Tomić — Novi List

Robert Frank — Glas Istre

Jadran Kapor — Slobodna Dalmacija

Bojan Divjak — Glas Slavonije

Goran Gavranovic — 24 sata

Berislav Jelinic — Nacional

Zdravko Milinovic — Globus

Miodrag Sajatovic — Lider

Eliana Candrlic — Hrvatski Radio

Silvija Londero — Media Servis

Tina Zagar — N1

Tanja Novak — Al Jazeera

Katarina Periša Čakarun —HTV

Željka Marijanović — RLT

Branimir Felger — Nova TV

These are the leading people of these media and correspondence (Al Jazeera), and the only exception is Tina Žagar from N1, who is a producer, not editor-in-chief.

Who was everyone from the government at the meeting? 

Prime Minister Andrej Plenković

Damir Krstičević, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense, Davor Božinović, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior

Zdravko Marić, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance

Vili Beroš, Minister of Health

Tomo Medved, Minister of Croatian Veterans

Blaženka Divjak, Minister of Science and Education

Nina Obuljen Koržinek, Minister of Culture

Boris Vujčić, Croatian National Bank Governor

Zvonimir Frka-Petešić, Head of the Office of the Prime Minister

Tena Mišetić, Deputy Head of the Office of the Prime Minister

Marko Milić, Government Spokesman

Representatives of the Croatian Journalists 'Association and representatives of the journalists' union were not present at the meeting. After the meeting, the government told Index that they did not call the representatives of other media because they wanted to avoid mass events — even though the meeting held nearly 30 participants.

The most controversial part of the meeting was the Minister of Culture’s mentioning of the crisis of 2008, when media revenues tanked due to fewer ads. Also, Plenković emphasized at the meeting that the goal of the media must be to avoid panic by promoting the work of the government, which, as they emphasized several times at the meeting, “took all necessary measures on time” and had “enough capacity to overcoming the crisis.”

What happened in the media after the meeting?

Shortly after the meeting, the media published articles praising the work of the government and HDZ’s members of the National Crisis Staff, as well as a strong campaign in the print media and on national television in which Minister of Health Vili Beroš was proclaimed a hero. 

The government’s decisions were announced without any critical tone, and the basic idea was to shift the blame to the citizens. The message was simple: the government has done everything, but it is the citizens who are disobedient, so unpopular measures must be taken.

After the meeting, advertisements of state and public monopolists appeared on the portals of some print media (such as Fina and Zagreb Holding, which have no competition and therefore do not need ads, especially in times of crisis), in columns that promote staying home during a pandemic.

What exactly was said at the meeting? There is no official information because, as they say in the government, there is no record of that meeting.

“By the response of the Public Relations Service of the Government of the Republic of Croatia dated March 20, 2020, you received confirmation of the meeting of Prime Minister Plenković with the editors-in-chief of television, print media and radio broadcasters in Croatia, as well as the fact that This public authority does not have a meeting, we submit this response in accordance with the provisions of the Right to Access Information Act,” reads the government's response in which they attached a note on the meeting, in which the invited participants are listed.

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Culture Minister Hasanbegović Sues Writer and Journalist Ante Tomić

Preliminary hearing was adjourned and will continue in November.

Monday, 9 May 2016

Croatian Journalists’ Society Condemns Media Attacks on Actor Rene Bitorajac

After Bitorajac recorded a satirical video clip, he started receiving threats and became target of attacks from some media.

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Croatian President Whistled at Conference on Media Freedom

Activists whistled President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović during a conference organized by the Croatian Journalists’ Society.

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