Montenegro Public TV Chief Sacked Despite Protests

Montenegrin journalists, media associations and NGOs protested on Thursday in Podgorica. Photo: Svetlana Slavujevic.

Media associations and NGOs insist that the sacking of the public broadcaster’s director on June 7, 2018 was politically motivated to restore government control.

by Dusica Tomovic, BIRN, Podgorica

The managing council of the Montenegrin public broadcaster, RTCG, decided on June 7, 2018 to dismiss director Andrijana Kadija, claiming that she misused her position and acted unprofessionally while running the state-funded media outlet.

The initiative for her dismissal quoted alleged illegal contracts signed with some local NGOs for the production of investigative stories which “endangered the editorial independence” of the public broadcaster.

But media organisations in Montenegro claim that the background for Kadija’s dismissal was a plan by the ruling Democratic Party of Socialists to regain its influence over the broadcaster.

For months, RTCG has been under huge pressure after a new editorial team that started work in March 2017 distanced itself from the ruling party and tried to produce more balanced content.

Ahead of the vote, Kadija said she should be proud to be fired by the managing council.

“I am aware that today I cannot defend myself from a predetermined decision,” she said.

“I am not a thief, I am not dishonest, I’m not a manipulator and I did not steal anything. I think you will unlawfully dismiss me but I am grateful for it because we could not cooperate in this atmosphere,” she added.

The initiative to dismiss Kadija was submitted by a member of the RTCG’s managing council, Mimo Draskovic, reportedly a supporter of the ruling party.

It accused the team led by Kadija of showing editorial bias and supporting the opposition.

Of the eight council members, six voted for dismissal.

Meanwhile, hundreds of Montenegrin journalists, NGO activists and opposition leaders protested on Thursday in Podgorica as the managing council voted to sack Kadija.

Montenegrin media organisation the Media Center said that the political pressure by the ruling party on the national public broadcaster began in March when two members of the managing council who came from NGOs were replaced by two believed to be close to the ruling party, aimed at putting RTCG back under political control.

The Media Center said that in the past 17 months, since the new director took the post, RTCG has shown that it can function as a genuine public service, equally remote from the authorities and the opposition.

“The RTCG has shown in the previous, short period that it is necessary and possible to work in the public interest, not only the authorities’ interest,” it said.

Read more:

Montenegro Ruling Party Accused of Subverting Broadcaster’s Independence

Montenegrin NGOs to Rally in Defence of Broadcaster

The article was republished from Balkan Insight with permission.