EBU backs new media law for Kosovo

The European Broadcast Union (EBU) is hoping that Radio Television Kosovo (RTK) can serve as a beacon for the whole Balkan area of SE Europe as time continues to heal the wounds of the bitter conflict that tore the region apart during the 1990s. Kosovo, which only achieved independence in 2008, has developed a draft law designed to provide RTK, as the national broadcaster, with the independence and security of funding enjoyed by its counterparts in the European Union. The EBU’s Director General Ingrid Deltenre has urged swift adoption of the law to give RTK security of funding and facilitate long-term planning. The changes would see RTK financed for a transitional period of three years from a guaranteed share of the country's budget. Established in 1999 by the EBU under an international mandate, RTK has been financed by direct government grant since Kosovo's constitutional court ruled two years ago that a system of license fees was illegal.

Deltenre met the President of the Kosovo Assembly, the Independent Media Commission, Deputy Prime Minister Hajredin Kuqi, and international organizations including the OSCE, the European Commission and the International Civilian 0ffice, in the Kosovo capital Pristina on Dec. 7-8. Deltenre admitted that the question of how to fund a public service broadcaster was a matter for the national government. But, it was vital she said that adequate financing should be guaranteed over a number of years, independent of any change in government, rather than being renegotiated annually.

The EBU Director General also highlighted the importance of creating a channel for Kosovo's Serbian minority within RTK, rather than as a separate entity. This would cater for the minority’s particular interests while bonding them within a Kosovan national identity. She cited the example of Switzerland, which runs four language channels all operated by Swiss Broadcasting. Other European countries such as Sweden, Finland, the UK and Spain, all cater for minority languages within national broadcast services.

Deputy Prime Minister Kuqi also emphasized that the Kosovo government should be committed to the independence of RTK as a Public Service Broadcaster operating to international standards.