STUDIO  99

Studio 99 was one of the first media which started the term of independent  radio journalism and things connected to that term. At first  just a radio station, Studio 99 has developed during its evolution into a media system which is becoming more and more significant in Bosnian information space. We spoke to Adil Kulenovic, studio director, about the genesis of Studio 99 and things that followed its further development.

" Independent radio Studio 99 started to work four months before the war and at that time we were convinced that we should be just a commercial station which would play good music and commercials.
Of course, as a commercial station we did not plan to do information program, especially not about politics. At that time we also published a magazine Slobodna Bosna, which was politicaly engaged and we thought , if we have one media like that, another one should not be like that . But, four months after the founding, the war came and other decisions had to be made. At the very first beginning of the war, many media were shut off, but Studio 99 editorial staff decided that, no matter what the circumstances would be, we will have the same destiny as other citizens. We are the only radio station which managed to makeit through the entire war, with the exception of the state radio. The basic orientation, founded then , at the beginning of the war, meant that we work for all citizens, regardlessof their nationality, sex or religion. We were aware of the fact that this orientation is not the choice of ideology, choice of life and options of survival in this area. Because, at the time, Studio 99 could, as we supported the first peace manifestation in front of the Holiday Inn on April 6, 1992, where there were around 100 000 people,

cause another night of Bartholomey here, in a sense to conduct international differenciation in Sarajevo based on religious, national or any other principle. 
Radio 99 worked for people of Sarajevo and so does today  and, as long as we are able to work on these principles, we will keep on existing. Thanks to our persistance in our beliefs, we survived all the crises we had during the war period, beginning with starvation and life danger , to what was expressed in all sorts of the extreme. During the first year of war, Studio 99 gave people hope that normal life is possible and we were supported by most people. Also, we did not have any special internal problems,
except for those that happen in every war, besides the fact that we were the first radio station occupied by illegal military formations of the time.

About the problems that followed the work of Studio 99, Mr. Kulenovic says :

" During the second war year we had our first problems and they were always about Studio 99ís orientation for civil and multiethnic Bosnia and Herzegovina and also the orientation that points out civil rights and as the first principle. The moment when nationalistic tendencies grew,it  meant our first confrontation with forces that were in favor of ethnic division of BiH and they were trying to shut down Studio 99. The first confrontation happened in July,1993 when we managed to get the new transmitter,thanks to journalists from the French organization "The Right to Word". Another problem,more serious one, happened in September, 1995 when our radio-tv transmitter was set on fire,also by local politic extrem forces which, at that moment,thought that basic idea of Studio 99-democratic and multiethnic BiH- was something opposite to their intentionof dividing Bosnia. Thanks to UNESCO support, we continued to work 27 days later."

From a small radio station, Studio 99 has developed into the media whose activities included founding of television.

"Television started to work on February 1, 1995, planning to continue providing objective information, through TV, as a dominant media. The early period meant working in circumstances of fighting local authorities in order to keep our independence, on a clear program orientation. But, this struggle brought drastic crises, but time had shown that man has as much liberty as he can take into his own hands. If we had waited for someone to bring us freedom, we would never have seen it. Media freedom can not be created when someone makes conditions for it. A journalist must be aware of the holliness of his profession and he must be brave so he would not harm people and harm is done with lies. With arrival of peace new problems occured. We faced ourselves with maintainance of independence in context of international authorities. Politicians always want to instrumentalize media, and put them in function of their political ambitions. That was the main reason why Studio 99, which was the main creator of independent TV network OBN, left OBN after 12 days of the project. We left it because some centers of political power through OHR, tried to turn Studio 99 in propaganda instrument. In 12 days of broadcasting we could not show one minute of our own program, and we had an ultimatum that we can not broadcast our programin time period from 18:00 to 24:00 hours. That was out of the question for us. They insisted that we should not broadcast our program but only theirs. What sort of independence is it than? After we left OBN, Studio 99 was media isolated for year and a half of all organizations except UNESCO.That is not a rich organization, but moral support was enough for us."
To our remark that most domestic media depend on foreign donations and the queston about the future of such work, we got the following answer:
"I am sure that OBN  network will go down, the minute the foreign capital is gone. Media that survived on its own work, without international help, is Studio 99. Last year, in six month perod, we had average pay 85 DM per month. We had to go through a shock of market adjusting and remainance as selfstanding project, by ourselves. In the next six months our salaries grew to 250 DM. That forced us to adjust to new circumstances and new conditions, and "instead of letting someone else give us the fish, we learned how to fish independently."That is why we survived as selfstanding project. Last year in May, I was in a terrible dilemma if we should close down Studio 99 because our debts went beyond the figure I could psychologically stand. I was in dilemma if we should stop working, but we went on and ended up as one of the few Bosnian media that managed to pay salaries to their employees last year. At this moment, Studio 99 has no debts, no financial donations in scence of getting money for salaries or the new technical equipment. We have no help from political parties or foreign media organizations. Our crisis is based on the fact that we live on a market, and OBN on donations.They can pay ten times bigger salaries then we can earn. We must make our money on advertisement and be competition to OBN at the same time with much less possibilities. Financies are limiting factor for us and we can make as much progress as our financies allow us to. In order to have commercials, we need to work more and do more quality shows, so this is an obstacle we are trying to overcome. For the first time in history of Studio 99 we are involved in an investment based on our financies, but it will be helped by European Community. It is about building a new transmitter on location that can cover all central Bosnia, investment is about 670 000 DM and until now with our business arangements, through advertising or renting media space,we managed to insure realization of this project. The European Community, for the first time after year and a half, decided to donate 20 000 ecu's to Studio 99 that will only be used for getting new technique, new transmitter and new cameras. We asked UNESCO and they agreed to control the ways of spending donations. With the new transmitter we will get 200 000 new direct viewers and around 500 000 listeners. We hope to get the possibility of better connecting to local TV stations. At this moment our central information show "Oko 22" is directly broadcasted by TV Visoko, and we hope we will make opportunity for other TV stations to show our programs."

We were also interested in how much did the technical imperfection disturb the complete realization of the planned program and how much will the program improve after getting the new equipment. The answer is:
" This technical help will be very helpful. From total 670 000 DM investment ,around 100 000 DM will be used for technical linking of Studio 99 equipment. Our equipment is used to a maximum and it is very burdened, so a lot of technical details that provide normal function are missing. After this equipment arrives we will have shows of best quality. Other shows will also develop depending on getting new equipment, if we manage to get financies to cover them. If we make additional commercial shows from which Studio 99 could get money for expenses and salaries, it would be ideal. At this time, when I tell a foreigner how much one minute of our program costs, he usually laughs, but it is the reality. On the other hand, in the new law about frequencies would be the law that puts all of us in the same position. Right now we could say that authorities act on authority-logic principle, and they are trying to insure absolute domination of media they controle. Unfortunatelly, according tothe law proposals, it is obvious that using strategy of making the state mediastrong they will at the same time annul every presumption for survival of the independent media."
 


About the superiority of the state media, Kulenovic adds this:

"The law does not limit big media with commercials, but it makes it possible for them to get incomes they want on bases of commercials and at the same time, the budget settles the rest of their obligations, so Studio 99 requests the state to limit the number of commercials for the big media, so they would have to buy around 25% of programs from the independent media. I hope that the associatoin we made, TV POOL, would help us to come forward with unique amandmans that will ask for the same rights for state and independent media."

What is the cooperation like between Studio 99 and other media in Bosnia and Herzegovina ?

"When I was creating the OBN  idea, I believed that independent media should be connected to each other and keep developing on the count of that connection. Now we wish to cooperate with all open media, not only independent ones, and in realization of that project we formed TV POOL which is made of televisions: Gorazde, Visoko, Zenica, 99, Bugojno, Travnik,Tesanj Tuzla and Bihac. As far as Republika
Srpska is concerned, we are in touch with TV from Rudo and we will try to cooperate with them. We are also in touch with SKY SAT, TV from Montenegro, with which we are planning to make a gathering of independent journalists from Mediteranian countries."

About the future of independent media, he said:

"I believe, if we could survive  worst war circumstances, future is on our side and no matter how long the struggle for freedom and democratization of Bosnia and Herzegovina should last, I hope it will be seen how much life is stronger than death."

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