Culture Minister Zlatko Hasanbegovic has said that there is no need for the continuation of financial support for any non-profit media under the ministry's culture policy, and relatedly, there is no need for the commission for non-profit media which he recently dissolved.
"Some believe, although they have no reason, that I will appoint a new commission comprising ideological antipodes and that I will direct money into the opposite direction, but my position, which I will soon formulate in the new culture policy, is that there is no need to continue giving grants to any non-profit media outlet within the Culture Ministry policy. If the government makes a decision that there is a need for that, there are other departments and administrative modalities," Hasanbegovic told the parliamentary committee on informatisation and media on Friday while explaining his decision to dissolve the said commission.
"In the budget for this year there is no need for such a commission. The new budget has a crucial role as does the new media strategy, given that the previous one is not obligatory on me in any way," the minister said.
He added that the the issue stemmed from "the so-called media culture policy" of former Culture Minister Andrea Zlatar Violic of the Croatian People's Party (HNS), who served in the government of Social Democrat (SDP) leader Zoran Milanovic from late December 2011 to late March 2015.
Hasanbegovic recalled that in early 2013, an office for media was established within the Culture Ministry, with the purpose of elaborating a national media policy and creating legislative and financial prerequisites for "a pluralistic media scene", however, all that remained "at the level of lifeless theoretical studies."
An invitation was published for existing non-profit media and those that were yet to be established to apply for non-repayable funds and three tenders were conducted for the allotment of lottery funds, directed to the Ministry from the National Foundation for the Development of Civil Society in the amount of 3 million kuna per each tender, the new minister said while explaining his decision to the media committee.
The entire case was surrounded by many controversies and frequent accusations of conflict of interest regarding the Commission's members, as well as accusations about nepotism, unclear criteria and ideological narrow-mindedness and public rows, Hasanbegovic said citing the example of the case of the Autograf portal.
The purpose of the entire project was missed, as it supported ideological platforms of a certain way of thinking, which negates the media pluralism, he said.
Following accusations from SDP MP Nenad Stazic that his decision on the dissolution of the commission ensued after the In the Name of the Family NGO complained in a letter to the minister about the allocation of funds in 2014, when it was denied the funds, Hasanbegovic said that this was a coincidence and that he was not acquainted with the contents of the NGO's open letter.