Bosnia-Herzegovina – Broadcasting Code of Practice of the Independent Media Commission (2000)

Broadcasting Code of Practice of the Independent Media Commission, effective as of 1 August 1998; amended on 9 June, 8 September 1999 and 10 February 2000.

In accordance with paragraph 3 of the Decision of the High Representative of 11 June 1998, establishing the Independent Media Commission (IMC), this Code sets out the rules and standards for program content which apply to television and radio broadcast stations and their staff in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Code covers such matters as incitement to, representation of and portrayal of violence and ethnic, national or religious intolerance and violence, as the prevention of such activity is vital to the well being of the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina. IMC will implement this Code and determine sanctions as appropriate.

This Code is intended to conform with the right to freedom of expression as envisaged by the European Convention on Human Rights and other instruments incorporated in the Constitution of Bosnia and Herzegovina, while respecting generally accepted standards of decency, non-discrimination, fairness and accuracy.

The term “Broadcaster” includes any television or radio station operating on the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina whether it is licensed by the IMC or not.

Broadcasters are responsible for the content of all material transmitted by them, whatever its source, and for the professional activities of persons employed by them. Violation of the provisions of this Code may expose broadcasters to sanctions which will vary in accordance with the gravity of the breach.

Broadcasters shall comply with generally accepted standards for intellectual property and refrain from any misappropriation of programs.

Broadcasters shall observe such temporary terms and conditions on broadcasting as the IMC may require from time to time, including but not restricted to limitations on political programming prior to elections, and emergency announcements. Broadcasters are also bound by the IMC Code on Media Rules for Elections.

Advertisements and program trailers must also comply with the provisions of this Code.

1. Program standards and requirements
1.1 General
Programs shall meet generally accepted community standards of civility and respect for the ethnic, cultural and religious diversity of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Broadcasters shall not broadcast any material which by its content or tone:

(1) carries a clear and immediate risk of inciting ethnic or religious hatred among the communities of Bosnia and Herzegovina, or which by any reasonable judgement would incite to violence, disorder or rioting, or which could encourage crime or criminal activities.

(2) carries a clear and immediate risk of causing public harm: such harm being defined as death, injury, damage to property or other violence, or the diversion of police, medical services or other forces of public order from their normal duties.

1.2 Decency and civility
Broadcasters shall observe general community standards of decency and civility in program content and scheduling, taking particular care to protect the interests and sensitivities of children. Language which could incite to violence, disorder or hatred must not be used. The gratuitous use of language likely to offend must be avoided.

Broadcasters must show consideration when selecting material reporting the effects of natural disaster, accident, or human violence. Before presenting such scenes, broadcasters must balance the wish to serve the needs of truth and the desire for compassion against the risk of sensationalism, causing distress or the possibility of unwarranted invasion of privacy.

1.3 Religion
The belief and practice of religious groups must not be misrepresented, and every effort must be made to ensure that programs about religion are accurate and fair. Programs must not denigrate the religious beliefs of others.

1.4 Fair and impartial programming
Broadcasters shall ensure due accuracy, fairness and impartiality in all programming, including news. They must not broadcast programs that by any reasonable judgement are intended to promote or, over the course of time systematically promote, the interests of one political party, or any group or individual to the exclusion of other parties, groups or individuals. Comment should be clearly distinguished from news. No one opinion or point of view must be allowed to prevail on controversial matters of public policy.

1.5 Paid Political Advertisements
All paid political advertisements are prohibited.

1.6 False and Deceptive Material
Broadcasters may not broadcast any false or deceptive material, which they know to be false or by prudent and routine inquiry could determine was false, or otherwise have reasonable grounds for assuming that it is false, or which carries a clear and immediate risk of public harm. If broadcast material proves to be false, a correction must be broadcast as soon as possible.

Journalists have an ethical obligation to protect their sources of information.

2. Right of reply
Broadcasters shall be required to extend a right of reply when they have broadcast material which unjustly places a person in an unfavorable light, or otherwise if fairness and impartiality require it.

3. Access to information and freedom to publish
Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Broadcasters’ freedom of access to information and their freedom to broadcast should conform with Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states that, “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”

European Convention on Human Rights
Broadcasters’ freedom of access to information and their freedom to broadcast may be subject only to such limitations as are set forth in the European Convention on Human Rights. Article 10 of the Convention states that the exercise of free expression may be subject to “such formalities, conditions, restrictions or penalties as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society, in the interests of national security, territorial integrity or public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, for the protection of the reputation or rights of others, for preventing the disclosure of information received in confidence, or for maintaining the authority and impartiality of the judiciary.”

4. Compliance with this code
4.1 Program recordings
Broadcasters shall make complete sound and/or video recordings of all programs transmitted by them. Such recordings shall be preserved for at least 14 days, or longer as IMC may require in specific cases. If a request for a right of reply, a demand for correction or a request for review by IMC is received within 14 days after the broadcast, the recording shall be preserved until the matter is definitively resolved.

4.2 Sanctions
In case of violation of this Code, the IMC may apply one or more of the following sanctions:
i. the requirement to publish an apology,
ii. the issuance of warnings,
iii. the making of orders,
iv. the imposition of financial penalties,
v. the suspension of licence,
vi. the entry to premises,
vii. seizure of equipment,
viii. the closedown of operations or
ix. the termination of licence.

5. Entry into force
5.1 Date of entry into force
This Code enters into force on 1 August 1998.

5.2 Precedence over existing regulations
As of this date, it shall have precedence over any existing laws or regulations on media applied in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which are in contradiction with it.

5.3 Amendment of the code
This Code will be reviewed from time to time in the light of experience and changing circumstances. The amendments enter into force on date of adoption, unless otherwise stated in this article.

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