RFI Serbo-Croat service objects to planned abolition
July 20th, 2009 - 16:44 UTC by Andy Sennitt

Text of report by French news agency AFP

Paris, 20 July 2009: The members of the Serbo-Croat editorial staff at Radio France Internationale (RFI) are protesting at the abolition of their daily output “broadcast for 23 years in ex-Yugoslavia”, which emerged today, Monday, within the framework of a restructuring plan for the state-owned radio.

“We protest vigorously at the abolition of our daily programmes, broadcast for the last 23 years in former Yugoslavia. This decision by the RFI managers is unjustified whether at the professional, the social or the legal level,” editorial staff wrote in a letter sent in particular to CEO Alain de Pouzilhac.

RFI managers announced a social plan in January that would cut 206 jobs out of 1,000 and close six foreign-language services (German, Albanian, Polish, Serbo-Croat, Turkish and Laotian) on the grounds of poor audience figures.

The Serbo-Croat editors said that the managers are “responsible” for the closure. They accused them of having “planned for the past 15 years and in systematic fashion the abolition of our main broadcasting resources, starting with shortwave, then mediumwave, then withdrawal in favour of partner stations (particularly radio Beta in Belgrade) and finally the refusal to develop Internet broadcasting”.

“Ending our programmes means an end to our collaboration with three freelance journalists and six permanent correspondents. Our colleagues, who have jobs until the end of August, have been told of the end of their work only 10 days before the date on which programmes are due to stop,” the staff added.

RFI broadcasts were disrupted for 60 days by a strike against the social plan. the movement has been suspended for the summer and should resume in September.