The new Culture Minister, Zlatko Hasanbegovic, said on Monday that he had dissolved the Commission for Non-Profit Media in compliance with the relevant laws, and announced that he would soon publicly present the principles of his culture policy that will clearly show that there is no need for such a commission any longer.
"The Commission was founded as part of the so-called media policy of the ministry. Its work was marked by numerous controversies, including unclear criteria for the allocation of financial grants and allegations about conflict of interest. Nevertheless, that is not crucial. What is crucial is that the Commission adopted decisions for 2015, and we now are entering a new budget year and I will soon outline principles of my culture policy that will show that there is no need for such a commission," Hasanbegovic told reporters in the parliament.
The minister also rejected speculations that he had dissolved the current make-up of the commission only to appoint new members, elaborating that there would no longer be any need for such a commission.
After the parliamentary committee on culture adjourned a session due to be held on Monday to discuss Hasanbegovic's decision on the dissolution of the Non-Profit Media Commission, due to a lack of forum, the minister handed out to reporters materials showing how 8.7 million kuna (EUR 1.15 million), intended for non-profit media, had been allocated by the Culture Ministry in the last three years.
According to the materials, 28 non-profit media outlets had been given grants in the last three years, and the biggest sum of 900,000 kuna was given to the portals Forum.Tm and H-Alter and the TV station "Treci Sektor" each.
A total of HRK 700,000 kuna was earmarked for both Lupiga.com and the portal Kulturpunkt.Hr, while VoxFeminae.net received HRK 540,000 kuna and Crol.hr HRK 420,000.
Furthermore, Radio Student was given HRK 360,000, In-Portal 350,000, and the Neovisni Novinarski Portal – Tris. Com. 340,000 kuna, the Cenzura TV show received HRK 335,000 kuna, etc.
Also, HRK 70,000 was allocated to Slobodni Filozofski, Fairpress.eu, Radio Attack, Romi, Gong, Pogledaj.to, the newspaper "Prosvjeta" and to Autograf each.
The minister's decision to dissolve the above-mentioned Commission has angered a part of non-profit media, including some of the above-mentioned recipients.
For instance, the E-net media network, which comprises Lupiga, Forum.tm, Tris, CroL, Slodobni Filozofski, Zarez, Radio 808, Radio Student and Nepokoreni Grad, on Monday sent an open letter to Prime Minister Tihomir Oreskovic calling for the immediate replacement of Culture Minister Hasanbegovic over his "brutal attack on media freedoms."
The E-net (Emancipation Network) underlines that the minister last week "dissolved the Commission for Non-Profit Media without an explanation and in violation of the relevant rules, announcing a revision of contracts signed between the non-profit media and the Culture Ministry, which threatens their survival." "Also, there have been attempts to depict the non-profit media as consisting of people who have thus found a free meal ticket and are 'cultural agitprop idlers' who spend millions of kuna of taxpayers' money, which is far from the truth," the E-net complained in the letter.
The minister, who arrived at the parliamentary committee's meeting today, said he was sorry not to be able, due to a lack of quorum, to present his position either formally or informally. Last Friday, the culture ministry sent a press release to Hina citing the relevant regulations that empower the minister to appoint and dissolve commissions set up in accordance with the said regulations.
(EUR 1 =HRK 7.6)