Kosovo's Serbian-language media survive on donations    

Objavljeno : 03.05.2018. Štampa El. pošta bookmark

Understaffed, exposed to conflicts and located in geographically isolated areas, the Serbian-language radio and televisions stations set up in Kosovo over the past two decades, have been doing little more than airing congratulations and greetings, creating a ghetto atmosphere, spreading primitivism, and supporting radical ideas and various political options, unconditionally and uncritically. The international community would grant micro-frequencies, proud to quote the numbers in reports, but neglecting the quality of work. Not only the owners know little about the role of the media, but the funding they get is too scarce to do anything properly.



Over time, the broadcasters have differentiated into two types of stations – those playing music and those airing a modicum of news programs, the latter usually sporadically, lacking proper financial and professional resources. Many international organizations organized training programs and seminars for the radio and TV staff, but in the absence of steady income, the attendants have either quit the profession altogether, or tried to make their way as correspondents for Belgrade-based media.


Relying on international financial support, a few broadcasters decided to shift the focus on human resources, increasing the quality of the programming. The first specific and systematic education effort linked to an institution and an active institutional role was within the project "Kosovo Media Associations." Apart from learning basic skills, the journalists were to make a news program, the KOSMA daily news.


Today’s exponents of the KOSMA network include the Kim, Kontakt Plus, Gorazdevac, Klokot and Herc radio stations. Some of the members have developed TV programs as well, and the KOSMA daily news is now available on their channels, too. The radio stations included in the "Kosovo Media Associations" project operate in different regions/enclaves, making the flow of information very quick and well-balanced, creating a competitive advantage in the local media community. KOSMA has become a recognizable, most popular news radio show, attracting as many as 60,000 regular listeners.


Following in the footsteps of the radio network, a TV network was born in 2009. The Association of Local and Regional Serbian-Language Broadcasters brings together the Mir TV in Leposavic, TV Most in Zvecan, TV Puls in Silovo, TV Herc in Strpce and the New Press TV production in Caglavica. The TV network affiliates exchange TV programs daily and periodically, contributing to detailed, more comprehensive reports for the Serbian community in Kosovo, as well as all other viewers in the territory that can use Serbian-language programs. The most popular TV content includes the Kosnet Info show, Agrar, Koreni, etc.


The Slobodno Srpski TV show by the New Press production has been increasingly popular since 2010. In a fairly brief period of time, the show has won many supporters, becoming one of the most-in-demand programs aired by the TV network and Serbia’s RTK2 channel. The Slobodno Srpski shows attracted a lot of attention from local and international viewers alike, making the program one of the most influential ones in Serbian, not only in Kosovo, but across the region as well. Aside from more informative contributions, the TV program offers more profound answers as well, analyzing important processes and encouraging transparency, in both institutional and individual work.


The Kosovo Broadcasting Corporation’s Channel II (RTK2) went on air in Pristina, in 2013. The channel largely serves the Serbian community, as 85 percent of the programs are in Serbian, and 15 percent are designed for the other communities in Kosovo. The RTK2 is hiring a large number of reporters working for the local Serbian media in Kosovo, threatening their work. The Serbian Association of Journalists in Kosovo has criticized the actions by the Kosovo public service, which allocates nearly a million euros for the Channel II.


The official cable operators aside, RTK2 is not available to everyone it’s intended for. The channel doesn’t offer terrestrial TV service, and cable service cannot reach returnees in Metohija or in the north of Kosovo. Consequently, the importance and role of the channel has been degraded to a few Serbian-majority municipalities south of the Ibar River.


In Kosovo, too, the development of the Internet gave birth to online media portals, escaping the regulations the classic electronic media need to abide by. The exact number of the portals in unknown, but the Kossev portal contributed to the diversity and substance of the Serbian-language media community. Currently the favorite, the portal demonstrates the elements of investigative journalism and an analytical approach to many issues of importance for the Serbian community in Kosovo. Since 2014, the portal has been edited by the Center for Community Development, based in Kosovska Mitrovica. Kossev promises on its website to provide the Serb community in northern Kosovo with accurate and timely information on current events, the so-called post-Brussels period and upcoming political and social processes. In addition, the portal provides reports on the Serb community in the north of Kosovo.


According to the Independent Media Commission’s statistics, 119 electronic media operate in Kosovo at this point, 30 percent of them in Serbian. As diverse as the media community is, very few media would choose co-production as their modus operandi, fearing they might be labeled "enemies of the state," or reluctant to accept editorial policies by the media houses tightly connected to the authorities.


The Serbian-language media can also count on the Serbian Ministry of Culture and Information for funding. The Kosovo government’s contests for the media offering minority language content are quite irregular. Ever since the international forces arrived in Kosovo, the Serbian-language media have survived on international donations. Over the past couple of years, however, the number of donors has dwindled, and those who have stayed support specific content only.


The limited broadcasting area, factory closures, the lack of economic activity in Serb communities have all harmed the sustainability of Serbian media outlets in Kosovo. From an economic angle, the number of listeners is irrelevant as the media are unable to attract advertisers, but they are very important for the people living in isolated areas and returnee enclaves.


There are radio stations in the north of Kosovo able to cover part of the expenditure from their commercial programs. Together with adds, they air congratulations by their listeners, offering a call-in line for their music wishes. The situation is completely different south of the Ibar river. The radio and TV stations operating in the isolated, small rural communities with fewer Serbian-speaking listeners are not at all attractive for commercial advertisers.


Repeated violations of the fundamental human rights and freedoms in Kosovo threaten the development and independence of the local media as well. Kosovo’s regulations, formally modelled after the international conventions on the freedom of speech, are hardly ever implemented in practice. Problems related to access to information, investigative journalism and Kosovo’s split society have made it impossible for these media outlets to grow normally and establish a relationship with institutions.


After nearly twenty years of international presence in Kosovo, of which ten have passed since Kosovo proclaimed independence from Serbia, chaos still prevails in the media community. The freedom of speech leaves much to be desired, and the media airing their programs in Serbia depend on donors. Belgrade’s are still dominant reports for the remaining Serbs, living in the north of Kosovo and in isolated rural areas.


(Article by Darko Dimitrijevic, editor in chief of the Radio Gorazdevac)



Source: Beta

Photo: Beta


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