by Lovorka Šošić, Centre for Peace Studies – Croatia
Civil society organizations are demanding an explanation from authorities after a popular political satire program — shown on a channel partly funded by citizens — was canceled.
Organizations from the Platform 112, the Croatian Journalists’ Association, the Civic Committee for Human Rights, the Anti-Fascist League and the Domino reacted against abolition of the satirical show “Mounted process.”
Croatian NGOs are demanding an explanation from authorities for their decision to cancel the satirical television show “Mounted process” (“Montirani proces“), which aired on Croatian Radiotelevision (HRT), the most important media service in Croatia, and one that is partly financed by citizens.
The show was a nationally televised political-satirical program, and the NGOs are particularly concerned over its cancelation because of the current social and political context, in which hate speech and incitement of intolerance are being relativized.
After all the remaining episodes of the show were cancelled, the NGOs expressed their concern in an open letter to the Program Council of the HRT, the commissioner for HRT viewers and listeners, and the Council for Electronic Media.
The NGOs believe that this far-reaching decision questions the freedom of expression and artistic freedoms on HRT. They warn that the decision is problematic in two aspects: first, the vague grounds on which the accusation for spreading intolerance is based; second, the unclear powers and responsibilities of the body that made that decision.
The HRT management based its decision on the fact that one part of the screenplay featured content that was not suitable for broadcast on HRT and which is completely opposite to the station’s mission, values and principles. Also, they believe that this content was misused with the aim of incitement of religious, ethnic and other forms of intolerance.
NGOs warn that HRT’s conclusion that the content is “in the contradiction with the mission, values and principles” and that the satire is “misused” in order to “incite” religious and ethnic intolerance rings false. It adds up to empty labeling and manipulation of political satire, and thus relativizes the dangers that do exist in the present political reality, as leading political figures continue to spread this kind of intolerance.
The full letter is available here.
This article was originally published on European Liberties Platform.