Republika Srpska Prime Minister Milorad Dodik called for a boycott of the state-owned federal television news station (FTV) because he deemed its coverage “biased and distorted.” Dodik issued a confidential internal memorandum on 3 March (which was leaked on 14 March) that asked all leaders in Republika Srpska to ignore requests from FTV and to suspend all advertising and business links with the station. The international community finds his economic boycott of the national TV news station outrageous, stating that Dodik is in violation of the 2001 Freedom of Information Act. Reporters Without Borders feel that FTV is not propaganda or favorable to a particular community and they consider Dodik’s actions a “major act of blackmail”
The strong reaction of Republika Srpska towards FTV seems to be based on a video clip portraying Dodik as Adolf Hitler, which FTV aired in early February 2010 on their “60 Minutes” program. The video came from YouTube and caused a fierce reaction from the SNSD (Savez nezavisnih socijaldemokrata/Alliance of Independent Social Democrat Party led by Milorad Dodik). They issued a statement, which said: “Hate speech produced in Sarajevo, with assistance from part of the International Community, has been implementing its second stage. First the RS was proclaimed the creation of genocide, now its leaders are fascists, and in the third stage all Serbs will be labeled fascists and genocide-makers,”
Dodik violated his authority and put journalists under political pressure with his demand of a boycott of the national news station. Politicians cannot interfere with the media, and Bosnia was one of the first countries in the Balkans to adopt a law on the access of information in the previously mentioned 2001 Freedeom of Information Act. Dodik previous called for a boycott of the national public TV station BHT1 in 2007, describing it as “politicized, malicious and totally unprofessional.” A confidential memorandum to boycott the national news station is only another example of Republika Srpska’s inability to work with the Federation. However, portraying the prime minister of Republika Srpska as Hitler, the world’s most evil leader, is highly inappropriate. If people want to watch mockeries of political leaders, they can do so on the internet. I did not see the 60 Minutes program with the video, so I cannot comment on the purpose of the show. Regardless, showing such a video on national TV implies that FTV endorses this image of Dodik. If the TV station were to show enough images of Dodik as a fascist, pretty soon all Serbs will be considered responsible for genocide. I agree with this point in the statement issued by the SNSD. This is the simple truth behind political propaganda- if you show enough hateful images in the media, eventually people are desensitized and believe what they see on TV. This is how genocide and wars start in the first place. I believe in the freedom of information and the right to free speech. National news stations, however, should be able to distinguish between newsworthy stories (which should be reported with professionalism) and which crap should stay on YouTube.