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Protests in Serbia Archive
Odraz B92 Daily News Service

    ODRAZ B92, Belgrade                             Daily News Service

    Odraz B92 vesti (by 10 PM), March 10, 1997

    E-mail: odrazb92@b92.opennet.org, beograd@siicom.com
    WWW:    http://www.siicom.com/odrazb/, http://www.opennet.org/b92/
    All texts are Copyright 1997 Radio B92. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

    NEWS BY 10 PM


    On Monday evening the Main Board of Student Protest 96/97 voted to
    continue protesting as usual. 16 representatives from various
    faculities at Belgrade University were in favour of the proposal
    and 15 against. Students will march on Tuesday at 2pm.


    On Monday Serbian Minister of Information Radmila Milentijevic
    presented the first, ``working,'' version of the new Law on
    Information. Mrs. Milentijevic invited the public and all relevant
    institutions to send reactions to the draft law to the Ministry,
    Radio B92 reported.

    ``This law aims to protect freedom, freedom of thought and freedom
    of expression, which means the absolute freedom of media in our
    Republic, '' Mrs. Milentijevic stressed.

    The draft Law says that a 14-member Council for the protection of
    free information should be established to analyse and monitor
    freedom of information.

    The Council's Chairman and eight members are to be appointed by
    the Serbian parliament, on the basis of proportional
    representation, while the remaining six members would be chosen (1
    each) by the Serbian President, the government, the Academy of
    Arts and Sciences, journalists associations and trade unions.

    Media financed by the state would be obliged to provide accurate
    and timely information. Censorship is banned and a code of
    professional standards would be established to regulate the
    principles of ethical journalism.

    According to the draft Law, no one single owner may own more than
    20% of all daily newspapers published in Serbia, nor broadcast
    radio and TV programmes which reach more than 25% of the whole
    population of Serbia. State-funded media are exempt from the rule.

    Radmila Milentijevic stated at the press conference where the
    draft law was presented to the public that this would protect the
    ``private sector from monopoly by any one person or institution.''

    Under the draft Law, media owners are also obliged to inform
    relevant state organs of foreign investment and are obliged to
    classify that funding separately. Financial or other help from
    abroad would have to be clearly announced in each issue of every
    newspaper, magazine and at the beginning and end of each show on
    each radio and TV, including distribution via cable and satellite.

    Mrs. Milentijevic stresed that the proposed law was based on the
    Serbian constitution and international journalistic standards and
    agreements. Responding to one reporters question on the reduction
    of BK Television's transmisison range by state-owned RTS, Mr.
    Milentijevic said that it as far as she was aware the dispute was
    simply financial.


    On Monday manager of state-owned Radio Television Serbia (RTS)
    Draguljub Milanovic rebuffed privately-owned BK TV claim that the
    decision to reduce their transmission range restricted freedom of
    the media.

    The announcement says that the contract, which RTS had decided to
    break, only applied to financial and technical relations between
    the two broadcasters and that the RTS decision to end that
    contract was based purely on ``its own economic interests'' as it
    now needed the transmitters which had, until now, been rented to
    BK Television.


    The Committee To Protect Journalists (CPJ) on Monday sent the
    following letter to Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic:

    March 10, 1997

    His Excellency Slobodan Milosevic
    President of Serbia

    Your Excellency,

    The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is writing to express
    its great concern about the recent threat to BK Telecom, an
    independent television company in Serbia, operating BK TV. On
    March 5, BK Telecom received a letter from Radio-Television Serbia
    (RTS), the state-run broadcasting company, stating that BK TV's
    lease for use of transmitter sites at Misenluk, Venac, Jastrebac,
    Crni Vrh and Goles would expire within 15 days, and that the
    agreement to use frequencies at Jastrebac, Crni Vrh, and Goles was

    According to BK TV's editorial board, BK Telecom had a valid
    agreement with RTS for the relays of its programs and had
    regularly paid expensive leasing fees. BK TV says it is the only
    station that has received such a cancellation, ostensibly dictated
    by RTS's need for technical expansion. The RTS cancellation also
    ignores the terms of the lease, which specify six months' advance
    notice for such termination.

    Open Media Research Institute has reported that BK Telecom, owned
    by Serbian entrepreneur Bogoljub Karic, has the capacity to reach
    an estimated 60 percent of Serbia's population. It has increased
    its criticism of President Milosevic in recent weeks, possibly in
    anticipation of Karic's reported efforts to launch a political
    party to run against the ruling Socialists in elections later this

    As an organization devoted to the protection of press freedom
    around the world, CPJ is concerned that the state-run RTS's sudden
    cancellation of BK Telecom's agreement, in violation of the terms
    of the lease, is politically motivated. The action appears to be a
    direct attempt to limit BK TV's broadcasting to Belgrade, thus
    depriving it of an outlet to the provinces.

    In November 1996, you met with CPJ chairman Kati Marton and signed
    a pledge to tolerate free media throughout the Federal Republic of
    Yugoslavia (FRY). Ms. Marton has repeatedly written to you since
    then concerning the need to permit independent television
    programming in FRY. We urge you to ensure that BK Telecom's
    agreement is honored and that BK TV is allowed to continue
    relaying its programs to cities outside Belgrade.

    Again, CPJ must also remind you of the case of Radio Boom 93,
    still off the air more than three months after the government's
    shutdown on December 3, 1996. Boom 93 had a history of independent
    broadcasting throughout the war in the former Yugoslavia, airing
    criticism of Serbia's policies as well as support of democratic
    principles. While Radio B92 and other stations in Belgrade and
    elsewhere have been allowed to resume broadcasting, Boom 93,
    located in President Milosevic's hometown of Pozarevac, the base
    of the Socialist Party, is still silent. As CPJ noted in a letter
    to President Milosevic on January 8, communications authorities
    have ignored Boom 93's repeated application for a renewal of a
    license and an attempt to take part in a frequency auction. CPJ
    strongly urges you to ensure that Boom 93 is allowed to resume

    Thank you for your attention and we await your comments.


    William A. Orme, Jr
    Executive Director


    Ambassador Zoren Popovic
    Ambassador Dragomir Djokic


    The US administration plans to issue an official reaction to the
    threatened reduction of BK TV's trnasmission range by state-owned
    RTS, FoNet reported on Monday.

    On Monday American officials said the action against BK was
    politically motivated, and contrary to the demands of the OSCE to
    open up Serbian media.


    The Zajedno coalition on Monday stated that its leaders, during
    their visits to many European countries, had requested some trade
    agreements for Yugoslav companies and easier access to the
    European Union's Common Market, BETA reported on Monday.

    Zajedno leaders recently spoke to the governments of Italy,
    France, Sweden, Germany, Austria, Spain, United Kingdom and


    The trial of four indicted war criminals for crimes allegedly
    committed against Serb civilians started on Monday in the Hague.

    Opening the case, Prosecutor Eric Osberg stressed that although
    this had often been known as the ``Muslim case'' this was wrong,
    not only because one of the accused was not Muslim, but also
    because nationality or religion were not the issues at hand.

    The four on trial are: Zejnil Delalic, Zdravko Mucic, Hazim Delic
    and Esad Landzo. They are accused of atrocities against Serb
    civilians in Celebici prison camp, from May to October, 1992. The
    Hague Tribunal also stated that the final decision of the Tribunal
    on the case of Dusan Tadic, whose trial was over, would be
    announced at the end of April.

    Prepared by: Goran Dimitrijevic
    Edited by: Julia Glyn-Pickett

    ODRAZ B92, Belgrade                             Daily News Service
    E-mail: odrazb92@b92.opennet.org, beograd@siicom.com
    WWW:    http://www.siicom.com/odrazb/, http://www.opennet.org/b92/

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