RFE/RL MEDIA MATTERS, Vol. 4, No. 4, 3 March 2004
2003 MEDIA OVERVIEW: MEDIA STILL STRUGGLING TO FIND THEIR
By Patrick Moore and Ulrich
While the overall situation in Kosova
might be called stable, political tensions in the province remain high. The
ethnic Albanian majority increasingly regards the UN civilian administration (UNMIK)
as a colonial institution that has overstayed its welcome, and Albanian
political leaders press for UNMIK to transfer more of its powers to elected
institutions. The Albanians' goal is independence and an end to all ties to
Representatives of the Serbian minority,
which makes up less than 10 percent of the population, seek greater security
guarantees for the return of refugees and internally displaced persons, as well
as for freedom of movement. Most Serbian leaders stress the need for Belgrade to
play a continuing role in Kosova's affairs. Should the Albanians succeed in
winning independence most Serbs would opt to partition the province, which the
Albanians would not accept.
After the parliamentary elections in
late 2001, the new Kosovar government led by Bajram Rexhepi took office on 4
March 2002. The international community announced in November 2003 that talks on
the final status of Kosova could begin as early as mid-2005, but only if eight
tough standards are met.
The situation of the electronic media in
Kosova is quite different from those found in other Balkan countries in that the
sector in Kosova is still controlled by the Temporary Media Commissioner (TMC),
an independent institution introduced by UNMIK in June 2000. Persistent but
unconfirmed reports have suggested for some months that the TMC is due to be
closed soon, but it still appears to be up and running.
The TMC, which receives administrative
support from the OSCE, "acts as the regulatory agency for broadcast media and is
responsible for the implementation of a temporary licensing regime. This role
includes upholding the principles of freedom of opinion and expression, but also
entails the disciplinary authority to ensure that broadcasters uphold their
licensing obligations," according to the TMC's official website, which otherwise
appears to be in need of updating (http://www.osce.org/kosovo/bodies/tmc).
While print media are not subject to TMC
control, the TMC was given temporary authority to address the conduct of the
print media in Kosova.
It is mainly due to the international
community's ability to influence editorial policies among the Kosovar media that
nationalist content has been greatly reduced. Nonetheless, threats are made
against journalists from time to time. Furthermore, investigative reporting has
a long way to go, especially regarding key areas where change is needed such as
crime, corruption, and attacks on Serbs.
The media market in Kosova is dominated
by a small number of major players. The major electronic broadcaster is the
public Radio and Television Kosova (RTK), which alone among television
broadcasters features multiethnic programming. It must nonetheless struggle to
keep broadcasting, to say nothing of achieving its goal of instituting 24-hour
RTK officials complain bitterly that
they receive little foreign funding because they are a public broadcaster, even
though they are the only television corporation that is multiethnic. Two private
Albanian-language television broadcasters, by contrast, receive more foreign
funding. Adem Demaci, known as "Kosova's Mandela" for his long years as a
political prisoner under the communists, recently resigned as chairman of RTK,
in part out of frustration with the lack of funding.
Evening television newscasts are the
main source of broadcast information for most of the population. In addition to
broadcasts from within Kosova, programs are received from Albania, Macedonia,
and the Albanian Service of the Voice of America (VOA).
In addition to the major radio and
television providers there are about 50 local radio stations that primarily
broadcast entertainment programming.
In recent years, Internet cafes have
sprouted up in Prishtina and elsewhere, but computer use is still limited by
most European standards. Interest in the Internet nonetheless received a big
boost during the 1998-99 conflict, both within Kosova and in the large and
important diaspora. Internet users are most likely to be from the younger
segments of the population or from professional classes.
Among the Albanian-language programs of
foreign radio stations VOA ranks first, which is probably a result of the
powerful impact of its television broadcasting. RFE/RL comes in second, followed
by the long-established Deutsche Welle.
RFE/RL is the newest of the three
broadcasters but enjoys an advantage over the others in that it is widely
regarded as the most objective and serious as well as being concerned primarily
with Kosova rather than with Albania. Deutsche Welle tends to be seen as close
to Albania's socialists, while the VOA is regarded as sympathetic to Albania's
Democrats. VOA's main advantage over its rivals is its television program, which
broadcasts the first news bulletin early each evening.
Print media are widely dominated by
three groups: the Koha group, the Zeri group, and the daily "Bota Sot."
Prishtina has five daily newspapers and, as elsewhere in much of postcommunist
Eastern Europe, seems long overdue for a consolidation of the market. The
dailies are: "Bota Sot" (The World Today), "Koha Ditore" (The Daily Times), "Zeri"
(The Voice), "Kosova Sot" (Kosova Today), and "Epoka e Re" (The New Era).
While the Koha group also has a
television channel (Kohavision), its major outlet is the daily "Koha Ditore."
That paper is closely affiliated with the political parties that emerged from
the Kosova Liberation Army (UCK).
It is inseparable from the name of its
publisher, Veton Surroi, and has sought to be regarded as Kosova's most serious
daily. Some readers, however, feel that its quality has declined in recent
months following some personnel changes in top editorial management in the
second half of 2003.
The Switzerland-based daily "Bota Sot"
is widely regarded as close to Ibrahim Rugova's Democratic League of Kosova (LDK).
"Bota Sot" vies with "Koha Ditore" for the top circulation figures in Kosova,
but is definitely the most widely sold Albanian-language daily in the diaspora.
source: Radio Free Europe / Radio
published by: Daniela Mathis email@example.com
date of release on this site 03/03/04