RTS Board: Attempt at RTS being perceived as a lever, beating stick

N1 / Nikola Kojić

All the pressures, various forms of violence and threats that the Serbian state TV (RTS) has been exposed to over a lengthy period of time have a similar background – an attempt to perceive the RTS as a lever, or a beating stick that is to be used to come to power, bypassing constitutional and regular procedures, said a statement issued by the RTS Board.

The public service broadcaster said the various forms of violence its employees are exposed to include violent raids on its building using saws, protests outside its building and verbal aggression against its staff in public places, often accompanied by serious threats and calls to lynching its employees.

The violence ranges from mentioning long arms and claims that even today the RTS would be a “legitimate” military target like during the NATO bombing of the country when our 16 employees were killed, to threats to our staff that they will lose their jobs once the “healthy forces” within the RTS take over the public service broadcaster, said the RTS Board.

Since there is practically never any reaction of the journalists’ associations and from various European addresses to this form of violence against our company (yet they all strongly react if a leaflet with threatening content happens to fall inside the grounds of some other television station), it is worth reminding all participants in public space of some facts, said the RTS Board.

It noted that it has zero tolerance for any form of violence, that there is no room for hatred and aggression it its programs or for those spreading hatred and intolerance.

The RTS participates in all initiatives and activities against all forms of violence and in those supporting assistance to vulnerable groups or those in need of medical treatment, it said.

The state TV said it does not engage in news tabloidization or any form of cruelty typical of most local media, that it does not broadcast reality shows encouraging primitivism, that it supports all activities aimed at disarming the society, and makes efforts to verbally disarm participants of public debates.

It stressed that it cannot be held responsible for the lack of decency, respect and dialogue among political actors in Serbian society that is increasingly noticeable in live broadcasts of Parliament sessions, adding that this is something it cannot influence.

Assembling dissatisfied people outside the RTS building at protests, which started off as anti-violence protests triggered by the massacres at the Belgrade Vladislav Ribnikar elementary school in Belgrade and in the town of Mladenovac, is highly immoral, said the public broadcaster.

The RTS Board said debates on ways to improve the work of the RTS are always welcome but added it seems that the most important job in Serbia is to try to destabilize or destroy the public service broadcaster and that many who have nothing in common often come together to achieve this.

Blockades of the RTS have nothing to do with a struggle for “more truth” and many of those calling for them over the alleged “lack of truth” had previously demanded the abolishing or remaking of series or journalists who were not to their liking when they were in power, said the statement.

The RTS regularly reports from the Stop to Violence and all other similar protests, it said, stressing that it informed its viewers in its news broadcasts about the aims of these protests countless times, giving the protest organizers an opportunity to explain why they were inviting people to these gatherings.

The request to report from these rallies like other television stations, which have introduced a whole new journalism genre – reporting that includes participation and incitement – constitutes a gross attempt to interfere in our company’s editorial policy and abuse these gatherings, said the RTS Board.

All those who are prepared to destroy our company should recall that there is no public service broadcaster anywhere in the world that is to the liking of either the governing or of the opposition parties, it said.

The former believe it noticeably lacks obedience, the latter see it as too obedient, and, same as in elections, the criterion is established by the number of people who trust a certain program, said the RTS.

On a daily basis the RTS programs gain the trust of millions of citizens and stand as a barrier against primitivism, but also as a pillar of decency and normalcy in Serbian society. The public service broadcaster is the mainstay of Serbian public opinion and any attempt to destroy it exposes someone’s plans that exceed the scope of the RTS and concern the fate of each and every citizen, said the RTS Board.