medienhilfe

Friedensförderung durch Brücken der Verständigung
Peace Building through Bridges of Communication

 

 

 

Support to independent media in Serbia and Kosov@ (October 2001 – February 2002)

MINORITY MEDIA AND ELECTION RELATED PROJECTS

A program supported by the Swiss Foreign Ministry:

Brief description

Conflicts - latent or manifested - among majority and minority ethnic groups remain one of the key threats for peace and stability in SEE, in particular in the area of the former Yugoslavia. Therefore a comprehensive rational, political and integrative approach to minority issues one of important aspects in peace-building and conflict prevention in the area. Even if the importance of a minority may depend on the percentage of population, also small minorities constitute an integrated part of the social and political system with equal rights to participate in all social and political affairs. Public awareness about minorities and minority related issues in a given social and political system is the best way both to assert public pressure for respect of minority rights and to prevent minority issues become a matter of conflicts or even crisis and wars. The support to media of ethnic and national minorities provides minorities their own professional media channels to address the issues of politics and society as a inherent part of comprehensive community-building, democratic institution-building and long-term conflict prevention. The mutual understanding has to build up on understanding of own identities, culture, challenges and issues related to the surrounding majority community to facilitate participation and integration.

Most of minority media are very under-developed and have extremely limited human and financial resources in order to successfully play this rile. Therefore it is very important to support them, applying the following guidelines:

  • As almost all minority media operate in quite poor conditions, projects aimed at improving infrastructure and further equipping are very much needed.

  • Production capacities of minority media should be strengthened, especially those referring to production of a following programming:

  • Current affairs and other information programming in minority languages, with a specific focus on the minority community;

  • Education programs on identity issues and specific problems of the minority community;

  • Background programming on social, political and cultural issues with an integrative approach towards community participation.

  • Joint projects of minority and majority media are especially important for facilitating inter-ethnic and inter-cultural dialogue.

  • Multi-ethnic /multi-lingual media projects represent the best practises of cross-cultural communication and as such should be given priority and special encouragement.

 Reconciliation is another important aspect of peace-building process. It represents one of the major challenges of post-war societies, which Kosov@ and to a larger extent Serbia as well certainly are, and an essence of conflict resolution process. The outmost basic precondition for it is learning about truth/s related to war and facing with issues of responsibility and guilt. Media can and do play an important role in it. With their special productions aimed to investigate war crimes as well as causes for wars, they push for public debate on these taboo topics, generate public support for NGOs who carry out investigation of war crimes committed, and influence a broad range of their audiences on re-thinking of their own responsibility.  

The program  comprises of nine selected media outlets in Serbia and Kosov@ who play important role in these specific aspects of peace-building and conflict-prevention processes. They are selected based on the following criteria:

  • Media in areas with openly manifested conflicts, mainly of ethnic character;

  • Media in minority languages, as well as multi-ethnic and multi-lingual media;

  • Media projects promoting civil society values and social diversity;

  • Media projects dealing with issues related to education in the field of human and minority rights protection; diminishing of ethnic and other stereotypes and prejudices; promoting of dialogue, tolerance and mutual respect;

  • Media projects dealing with the burden of a recent past – reasons that led to the wars; war crimes committed; issues of truth, guilt and responsibility.

  • Acknowledging the very diverse ethnic and national structure of the societies in the South-Eastern Europe and specifically in the area of the former Yugoslavia;

  • Knowing that most of conflicts, crisis and wars did not happen because of, but along these ethnic and national identities;

Jehona magazine

This Bujanovac-based magazine is the only Albaina-language newspaper in Serbia. It has circulation of 6.000 copies and is distributed in Bujanovac, Presevo and Medvedja, with around 110.000 Albanian inhabitants. The paper was founded in 1992, by the Artistic and Cultural Association “Jehona”. It is legally registered with the Ministry of Information of the Republic of Serbia (decision no. 632-03/'92 of 23 March 1992). Jehona’s editorial policy independent, not connected or supportive to any political party. It is information magazine, focused on political, social and cultural issues. The magazine's topics give a considerable contribution to the communication and acquaintance between people of different nationalities. They also bring a realistic spirit in the solving of the current problems of the area. Jehona has a critical attitude toward the government and all other political parties that act in these municipalities and further. Women and children are specific target groups and sections devoted to them are developed. The paper has 7 full-time and 8 part-time journalists and editors. The magazine contains: Editorial, Informative section (on main social and political developments in the area), Culture column, Literary column, Everyday life column (reports and reportage of people’s life in various aspects), Children's column, Ethnographic column (customs and traditions), Art column and Sports column. The paper is also distributed in parts of Kosov@ where there are still some refugees from southern Serbia.

The support program will be used for developing Women column, strengthening of Children column, for distribution to refugees in Kosov@ and for covering printing costs (including paper) for 3-month period (November 2001 – January 2002).

OK Radio

Program of this private station in Vranje, is primarily focused on community and information coverage. Radio OK has big plans for further developing of information and community program. However, serious in-house programming requires substantial funds for production costs as well, which OK Radio does not have and largely depends on donations. Although the station is the most listened to in the southern Serbia (audience research of Strategic Marketing) and has the excellent marketing for Serbian conditions, it can hardly cover its minimum operational costs, largely due to the fact that the big companies in Vranje that are still under SPS&YUL refuse business co-operation. The station also needs to update its equipment. It has outdated (some equipment items even older than 10 years) and partly amateur or even hand-made improvised equipment. The station covers both Bujanovac and Presevo with its signal and people there do listen them. In some call-in cultural broadcasts also Albanians from these cities take part. Ten journalists were trained at BBC School in Sarajevo. ANEM Training Center provided training for technicians, management and for journalists in diversity and conflict reporting. The station has two regular correspondents from Bujanovac and Presevo, while Albanian correspondent of RDW from the area also reports for it. 60-minute weekly broadcast “We have to live together” was launched in July. It features the most prominent and relevant figures in both the Albanian and the Serbian communities. 15-minute excerpts from those programs will be broadcast every second day during the regular news program in order to foster public debate. Also a series of public panels in the studio and on remote locations, featuring participation of the attending public is in the program. OK radio is the only local broadcaster in southern Serbia who currently has professional potential necessary for producing programs to deal with inter-ethnic conflicts and cross-cultural dialogue.

The support program will contribute to covering of 3-month production costs of information programming for period October – December 2001.

Radio Nisava

Radio Nisava is currently the only Roma station broadcasting in Serbia. It was founded in 2000, by one of the biggest Roma NGOs in Nis – the Association “BAHTALO DROM”. The station is located in one of the largest Roma settlements in Serbia, with around 9.000 inhabitants. The station was established without any donor support, with efforts and contributions of Roma NGOs and the entire community. Signal of Radio Nisava reaches a major part of the whole South of Serbia, with around 300.000 estimated Roma inhabitants. Nis is the town with the highest concentration of Roma NGOs – totally 18. All of them are actively involved in program designing and realization. Besides, they have a stable and very good cooperation with other NGOs in the town, who are often invited to participate in program. Program of Radio Nisava is dominated by current affairs and education broadcasts: health education, emancipation of women, preserving cultural heritage of Roma, learning proper Roma language, children broadcasts, program dedicated to major problems Roma are faced with, etc. The station sees its mission in contributing to rising an education level of Roma people, in influencing public awareness regarding position and problems of Roma and better integration of Roma into society. Radio Nisava has received grants for covering production costs. However, it has only very basic production equipment (one computer for editing and one mixete) and improvised studio. Also trained core-staff is missing. This significantly hinders the station to rise quality of its program.

The support program will be used for purchasing production and studio equipment as well as for training of hard-core editorial staff. 

Rrominterpress – Radio Voice of Roma

“Rrominterpress” was founded in Belgrade in 1995. It issues several newspapers in Roma language: 1) “Roma Newspaper”, which covers culture, information politics, and issues related to Roma refugees from Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and now Kosovo, and 2) “Children’s Newspaper”, which is distributed through Roma organizations and individuals, as well as through schools with larger number of Roma children. In cooperation with ANEM and Media Center two radio broadcasts have been occasionally produced during the last years: 1) “Roma World”, 1-hour weekly broadcast with informative and political character, but it brings features from other fields as well; 2) “Voice of Roma”, 1-hour bilingual programs of combined talk shows and music have been broadcasted. The program has informative-political character, with cultural segments. It devotes great attention to the problems of Romas who have fled Kosovo. Bearing in mind that two weekly broadcasts can not meet needs of over 100.000 Roma living in Belgrade and surrounding, Rrominterpress designed the project for launching a radio station in Roma (and Serbian) language – Radio Voice of Roma (Khrlo e Romanego). However, as the Memorandum on Frequencies is still in force, the project is for the time being adapted to real circumstances. Voice of Roma is to function as the production studio and the broadcasts will be offered to stations throughout Serbia. Agreements with ANEM Radio Network as well as with state-run Radio Belgrade for regular broadcasting of their production are reached. Grants for covering production and running costs till mid of 2002 are ensured. However, only Open Society Institute approved grant for purchasing part of equipment for the production studio. Rrominterpress accordingly has enough money for operational costs, but not all basic equipment necessary for work.

The support program will be used to purchase equipment for completing the production studio.

Arhitel TV Production

Arhitel derived from production The Right to Pictures and Words, which operated as a part of Radio B92. Its production is dedicated to questioning of recent past and dealing with short memory phenomenon of major part of audience in Serbia. The television serial “Images and Words of Hate”, which consists of six films (Vukovar 1991, Year One, Year Two, The News at 19:30, Year Three and Year 99) presented war propaganda and hate speech performed by the state-run Radio & Television of Serbia (RTS). They were broadcast on ANEM TV Network, while tapes translated into English served as teaching tool at many international conferences and journalist schools. TV serial “YU File”, also broadcast by TV B92 and ANEM TV Network, referred to war in Kosov@. It provided audience facts about war crimes and ethnical cleansing, connected to current political and social events in Serbia. Documentary-feature movie “The Bankers” showed the audience mechanism the former regime used to for snatching money away from people in order to provide enormous wealth to a narrow circle of state officials, but to finance war operations in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosov@ as well.

The support program will cover production costs of a new documentary movie “Academicians”. The basic idea of this project is to shed light on the role of the Serbian Academy of Arts and Sciences (SANU) in the period of the rule of Slobodan Milosevic. The basic segments of the movie are: 
1) The issue of the culpability of the intelligentsia for the wars; 
2) Viewing the influence of the most important national institutions, such as the SANU and the Association of Writers; 
3) A special focus on going back into historical mythology and its influence on the minds of the citizens of Serbia; 
4) The attitude of national institutions toward other peoples in the former Yugoslavia; and 
5) Experiences and lessons necessary for the future of young people in Serbia.

Radio Contact

The station was established in 1998 in Pristina, as the first multi-ethnic media in Kosov@. After the war, the operation was revived within the NGO Civic House in autumn 1999 and later a legal license and frequency obtained from the Temporary Media Commission (TMC). The station currently has staff of 12: 6 Albanians, 2 Turks, 2 Serbs, and Bosniaks and Roma one each; with 60% of female. Radio Contact is member of many regional networks in SEE (ANEM, One World, SEEMO) and has bilateral program cooperation with a number of stations. The core staff received education in conflict resolution in Canada, USA and Denmark as well as journalist training in diversity and conflict reporting. Radio Contact broadcasts in Albanian, Serbian, Bisnian, Turkish and Roma languages. Its program is strongly oriented to strengthening of civil society, with many broadcasts on education for democracy, women and youth issues. There are no commercial broadcasts. The station represents the first indigenous multi-ethnic project in post-war Kosov@. Despite serious security problems (including hand grenade attacks and life dangerous injuries after being shot in the street) and huge financial problems, the station stays dedicate to fulfilment of its mission: tolerant multi-ethnic society in Kosov@.

The support program will contribute to covering of 3-month production costs for period November 2001 – January 2002.

Radio Contact Plus

The station is situated in northern Mitrovica and started its operation in spring 2000, as a branch of Radio Contact. According to assessment of OSCE as well as of donors, it currently represents the most professional broadcaster in Kosov@ with program in Serbian language. It has very developed information and education program, producing a several weekly broadcasts for OSCE and other international organisations that are then distributed to other stations for re-broadcasting. Therefore, Radio Contact Plus is foreseen as the leading station and the coordinator of “Kosovo Network”, which will gather over 30 stations that have program in Serbian (many of them also in Bosnian and Roma). It will operate central production hub for program exchange and editing of broadcasts containing productions of single network members. Contact Plus is the most listened station in the entire northern Kosov@, the largest Serb enclave. But, it is listened in southern part of Mitrovica as well. Because of its high professionalism and promotion of mutual understanding and tolerance, the station has been approached by several local stations in Albanian for program cooperation. Joined cultural and youth broadcasts with Radio Mitrovica and Radio Globi are launched in July. Weekly information magazine for Serb and Bosniak population in Vucitrn and surrounding is in preparation and will be broadcast by Radio Vicianum in Vucitrn.

The support program will contribute to covering of 4-month production costs for period November 2001 – February 2002. It will particularly refer to broadcasts to be produced for program cooperation with stations in Albanian language as well as for those to be broadcast by Kosovo Network.

Radio Max

The station was established in 1998 in the village Silovo, municipality Gnjilane. It is the only independent radio station with information and education program in Serbian language in eastern and southern part of Kosov@, where the second largest Serbian enclave is. The audience is estimated at 50-100.000, in municipalities Bujanovac, Presevo Gnjilane, Vitina, Kamenica, Srtpce, Novo Brdo, Gracanica, Urosevac and even Bujanovac and Presevo in southern Serbia. Max has 12 employees, 7 female and 5 male. Journalists were trained on courses organized by OSCE, ANEM Training Center in Belgrade as well as at journalist schools in Rome and USA. Max has excellent cooperation with OSCE, UNMIK, KFOR and a number of international NGOs, serving as communication channel for passing important information to Serb community in the area. The station has established a good cooperation with local authorities, whose representatives, including mayor, often come as guests to studio. The biggest political parties of Albanians already approached the station for broadcasting election jingles containing messages for Serb voters. Max has very successful children and youth broadcasts where kids and teenage of both Albanian and Serb origin participate. However, the station is still quite poorly equipped, which seriously affects its program. A top priority is thus studio for production, cutting and editing, which will enable station to prepare formats of field-reports that are appropriate for broadcasting.

The support program will be used for purchasing equipment for production and editing studio.

TV Studio Prizreni

TV studio Prizren is a local independent  TV station, founded by the NGO called “legal Club Prizren”, which gathers lawyers and human rights activists of different ethnic background. The station has its board, where Turkish and Bosnian representative are participating too. TV Studio Prizreni is located in the Hous of Culture, in the city’ center. The most of program is in Albanian language. However, since summer the program in Turkish and Bosnian language are introduced. This is very important as Prizren and surrounding is the area where 90% of Kosov@ Turks are living and TV Studio Prizreni is the station with the most program dedicated to this ethnic community. There are plans to start with program in Serbian language next year. Beside news broadcasts in all three languages, TV Studio Prizreni has documentaries, broadcasts on women issues and education broadcasts for children and youth. Broadcasting is done through terrestrial transmitter system and it covers Prizren, Rahovec, Dragash, Suharekë, Malishevë and partially Gjakova, with around 600.000 potential audience. The station has 20 employees, out of which 17 are working in program production and presentation. There are 8 women and 8 work on program in Turkish and Bosnian languages (4 in each).

TV Studio Prizreni submitted a separate project for coverage of the elections scheduled for November 17. For one month extensive coverage of election activities and programs of Albanian, Turkish and Bosnian political parties and candidates will be performed.

The support program will be used for covering production costs of election-related programs during a period of one month prior to the elections, while the remaining 6.000 DM will be used for covering production costs of programs in Turkish and Bosnian language for a period of 2 months.  

BACKGROUND AND CONTEXT

 Establishing of a tolerant multi-ethnic and multi-cultural society in Kosov@ is prominently placed on the agenda of the international community’s efforts. However, the situation on the ground is at the moment far from this targeted ideal, in particular regarding Serb and Roma communities. Social and political integration of minorities, their active participation in building of democratic institutions and development of democratic political culture belong to major tasks. They have to be rooted in on local level and thus represent a part of community-building processes. Local media in minority languages whose editorial policy is independent from any of local centers of political power and is in compliance with basic principles and standards of professional journalism play essentially important role. They provide citizens information needed for their participation in decision-making processes, enable broader public debate about problems and proposals for their solutions, offer civil society groups possibility to address broader public, influence establishing of critical autonomous public. Independent local media who have such coverage and present in a manner that provides communication flow across the existing ethnic divisions is of a key importance. During a period of election campaigns this role gets additional importance. Proper coverage of local media will be an important factor of rising a quality of minorities’ participation in the elections to take place on November 17.

Serbia represents the country with the largest variety of different ethnic groups (over 30) among its citizens in SEE region. A decade of wars as well as repressive policy towards minorities performed by the former regime caused occurrence of many latent and manifested ethnically based conflicts in ethnically mixed regions.  One among them is Presevo valley, area with Albanian majority in population. Although situation significantly improved since the cease-fire was reached and the plan for solution of the main problems was adopted in spring, the ethnic division is still strong. Among other things, Albanian community still has limited access to information in mother tongue. Jehona magazine is still the only independent media in Albanian with information and education coverage. On the other hand, situation is not much better among local media in Serb language. There is only one radio station (OK Radio) who has information programming that meets basic professional standards. These two media therefore play an important role in providing citizens with accurate and objective information, which hinders political manipulation still often pursued by local political bodies.

Roma community in Serbia deserves a special attention. It is the country’s largest ethnic minority (around 600.000) and at the same time the most marginalized and discriminated. Projects that would facilitate Roma’s social integration and education are badly needed. Level of awareness of majority population regarding Roma problems is extremely low. Although there is no significant violence against Roma, education of Serbs on Roma issues is needed. 

But not only current conflicts emerging out of non-solved problems in inter-ethnic relations are important issue in Serbia. Also the conflicts from past that escalated into a couple of wars still represent open issues. In order to be able to peacefully live with national and ethnic groups against whom it was in war, Serbia has to face with truth about reasons for these wars as well as war crimes committed during them. Public opinion surveys show that over 50% of Serbs do not know about war crimes committed. Also 2/3 hold other ethnic groups and not Serbs as responsible for the wars. The only one to rise these issues in nowadays Serbia are human rights organizations and independent media.

 

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