|EBU Vice-President Claudio Cappon and President of the Parliament Ranko Krivokapic|
Podgorica, Montenegro - EBU Vice-President Claudio Cappon has urged Montenegrin politicians to boost support for their country's public broadcaster, RTCG, as it struggles with reduced funding, despite making notable efficiency savings and job cuts over the past year.
Mr Cappon, accompanied by former EBU Vice-President Boris Bergant and David Lewis, Head of the EBU Partnership Programme, held separate talks in the Montenegrin capital yesterday (26 July) with Culture Minister Milorad Katnic, Finance Minister Branislav Micunovic, and President of the Parliament Ranko Krivokapic.
This year RTCG's public funding is expected to drop to around €7.5 million – down from €10.3 million in 2009 – making it the lowest in the region.
Although advertising revenue is set to rise from 2011 levels, the broadcaster will have less than €10 million this year to fund two radio channels and two TV channels. Adding to the pressure, on the day of Mr Cappon's visit, the Montenegrin Parliament voted to establish a new parliamentary channel to be operated by RTCG – with no provision for extra funding.
Mr Cappon said RTCG had made successful reforms and increased audience figures since director general Rade Vojvodic was appointed last December. But he said RTCG needed more funding, not only to perform its regular mandate, but also to repay urgent debts and digitalize its production facilities ahead of an analogue switch-off scheduled for 2015.
RTCG also requires government help to finance severance payments; it has cut its staff from 833 in January 2011 to 720 in July 2012, and plans to reduce that number to just over 600. At the moment it can afford neither to cut nor maintain its current headcount.
The EBU delegation was accompanied for its talks with Mr Micunovic and Mr Krivokapic by Mladenka Tesic of the Delegation of the European Union to Montenegro. This was the first example of concrete cooperation between the EBU and the EU since signature in Brussels on 24 July of a Memorandum of Understanding on enabling the democratic role of public service media in EU accession countries.
This was a return visit for the EBU Vice-President, who visited Podgorica in early 2011 to launch a programme of strategic assistance for RTCG conducted by Mr Bergant on behalf of the EBU's Partnership Programme.
(Source : European Broadcasting Union)