Bosnian public broadcaster secures sustainable funding

BHRT bulding, Sarajevo

New model allows BHRT to source independent funding via electricity bills in a deal reached with the Electric Company (Elektroprivreda – JP EP).

The deal means that from August 2017 BHRT will be able to collect the TV licence fee via electricity bills, with the hope of striking similar contracts with other domestic utility companies.

It is hoped that this sustainable model will allow the broadcaster to start investing in much needed new technology, equipment and programming after a prolonged period of financial and political instability.

It has been over a year since BHRT’s previous funding model expired, which was based on a TV ownership tax. This was collected through telecom operators yet deeply influenced by political agendas that led to it being poorly maintained. This culminated in substantial debts for the broadcaster of up to €20million, almost resulting in a temporary shutdown in June 2016.

Yet despite the financial security offered by the new funding model, BHRT continues to face numerous hurdles, including the country’s declining press freedom and issues surrounding digital transition. As part of a statement congratulating BHRT on the deal, the EBU’s Head of Media Relations, Eastern Europe, warned of the challenges ahead:

“BHRT is still in need of urgent Government support to both repeal the outdated media laws and to help repay their debts which now stand in the region of 20 million euros. Without this assistance, public service media in BiH is still in a perilous state and we continue to appeal to the government to find a long-term solution to their problems”.

The article originally appeared on Public Media Alliance

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