The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) have criticized the anti-government protesters storming into the building housing Radio and Television of Serbia (RTS), while OSCE also expressed its concern about the incident – the Beta news agency reported, citing the Union of Journalists in Serbia (UNS).
Previously, UNS asked the two professional organisations to react to the incident.
Anthony Bellanger, the IFJ’s Secretary General, said in a statement that forceful entry into any media premises was “inadmissible” in democratic societies.
“We call on all sides, including the state, to protect the editorial independence of RTS. Serbian society deserves to have an independent public broadcaster,” Bellanger said.
The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) also said it was worried by the protesters’ entry into the RTS premises, and then demanding to go on air. RTS is an EBU member.
The Union also said it strongly opposed the intimidation of media organizations and called on all sides in Serbia to get involved in a constructive and inclusive dialogue and to support the independence and pluralism of the public broadcaster.
Zoran Stanojevic, a UNS member and an RTS news editor, who was inside the building during the incident, told the IFJ that demonstrators asked him to create space for a special news programme during which they could express their demands and wanted him to call his superiors.
„I called them, and they told me what I had already said to people, that that was not possible, and we asked them to leave the building peacefully, but they refused. The police had to come. Some of them resisted, and police officers had to use force. Nobody was beaten,“ Stanojevic said.
He added that RTS journalists and editors could not do their job while the protesters were in the building.
“There was some damage done, broken windows and doors, but it was clear they did not come to demolish the building. No employer was hurt. We continued working as usual after they left,” RTS editor said.
OSCE expresses concern
Harlem Désir, OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, said he was worried about the incident at RTS and said a debate about the national public broadcaster was necessary.
“The discussion on pluralism and independence of the public broadcaster is fundamental. Its role is to inform the audience in quality and unbiased manner regardless of political interference, and its performance is irreplaceable in democratic processes,” Désir stated.
He added that “disapproval with the editorial policy must not be expressed by intimidation and pressure on journalists.”
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