Arthur Bueno on Wed, 29 Sep 1999 11:38:15 +0200

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Syndicate: 6. - veran mati

Date: Wed, 29 Sep 1999 10:02:56 +0200
From: "f," <>
Subject: 6. - veran matic

	interview with veran matic (b2-92, anem), september 15th, belgrade

What are currently B2-92's strategic goals?

The main goal of B2-92 in the nearer future will be to to take up work
again in all the sectors we've been working before the war situation. One
main task will be to get the station connected again with the network of
similar radiostations in serbia. Internetproviding is another crucial
point. And a third topic is the reconstruction of the environment that
surrounded B92, the cd-, video- and book-production and the cultural center.
And there are new topics we are dealing with: In the moment we are in the
process of establishing a coalition called "energy for democracy" in
collaboration with the independant group of scientists called group 17, the
union of the free cities (i.e. the cities ruled by non-gouvernment and
oppositional mayors, f,) and ANEM. Main project of this coalition is to
help the cities which are under it's control to survive the coming winter
in the best way. The main reason for this is that we have to avoid a
situation in which institutions, especially media and ngos- there are 150
ngos working presently in serbia - have to stop their work because of
shortage of electricity. This shortage would be an opportunity for the
current gouvernment to stop the work of all these organisations, to ban
them and get them out of the way. And we collaborate with the yugoslav
action, a coalition of 50 ngos that tries to get more attention to the
question of an amnesty as one of the very important questions of practical
life. In the moment there are already 20.000 people being punished or
facing punishment because they refused to go to the army and to Kosovo
after being drafted. 
So our work in the moment has two main goals: on the one hand we help to
coordinate and support the different forces locally working on questions of
democracy. "Energy for democracy" is backed by the european union, and so
we expect that the movement for amnesty will have a lot of international
support, too. And the other is to reestablish critical journalism again, to
make all the independant local media feel that there are chances to develop
again professionalism even under serious pressure.

Which effords were being taken to get the old B92-station back?

The ban of B92 was a political act. To get the station back we have to
exhaust all the legal possibilities, we have to go all those steps. And we
launched the campaign freeb92 and the programm b2-92. Practically
everything we are doing is part of this campaign: t-shirts and stickers and
buttons, the peace parade on september 18th, the mtv-campaign. But freeb92
is not only meant on the case of b92. It is meant to remind people that the
situation is still a nightmare for all independant media in Serbia. In a
way we are just using the case of our station to get the message to the
people that all media are under the threat. We don't forget anybody else
over our own case.
Anytime in the past when b92 was under pressure we found ways to come back
much stronger than we were before. In 1991 when we were banned for the
first time the name of the station got world fame. In 1992 there were again
threads that b92 will be banned and we tricked everybody when we played for
a while a program that was to be expected if the station would have been
taken over - we played folkmusic and that sort of stuff. Out of that action
came a lot of anti-war actions for it was the beginning of the war in
Bosnia. That was the moment when the radio became sort of a civil movement
and a core of different groups. When in 1996 during the big protests we
came back after 52 hours we launched ANEM that unites different radio- and
tv-stations. To get our premises back will presumabely not take place as
long there's a president Milosevic. To get rid of him is therefore not only
a political task but the way to reestablish the old B92.

What is the deal with Studio B? Isn't there the danger that Vuk Draskovic
(leader of the Serbian Renewal Movement [SPO] that controls Studio B, f,)
uses you for a political facelift?

	He's not that smart. He never backed us publicly before. And people tend
to forget to remember that for nine years we were broadcasting through
state television and our transmitter was owned by the state - and the state
surely never backed us but made us lots of problems. 
Practically it is impossible to have influence on the way we are editing
our programs. The team works together since ten years, and everybody knows
that it does not pay off to put us under pressure. That we got the
possibility to use those premises and broadcasting time of Studio B was not
a politicla move on the high level but a private initiative of his adviser
Ognjen Pribicevic who has an idea about what b92 means as a media. We will
use this opportunity in the best way. And there is another excellent deal
with Studio B for a tv-program: Presently we have weekly two hours on tv
and we are on the way to launch an own night program which might help us to
let the net of local tv-stations work together much closer and to create
some kind of competition to the state televison.

There were critics that the campaign Help b92 finally failed. Do you see
any reason for that?

	The campaign was of great importance for us. It brought an instant
mobilization of institutions and organisations that were willing to help
us. It was the only contact we had with the outside world. But there was a
great deal of confusion concerning the position of independant media and
the relation to the war situation. Our problems and the ones of the
campaign were not easy to handle: What should be the best way to support
us? What sort of publicity would help us most? Independant media from
Yugoslavia couldn't solve this problem from within, and the people from
outside did not have enough information.
But the action was a success because in the end it really helped us. The
problem with the action and why we stopped it was that on the outside
everybody was tied to what belgrad is saying. But during the war there was
no message from belgrade, no firm answer. And i guess that this was main
problem because we were not in the position to give that message. We are
aware of what could have been done in that moment and because it wasn't
done there's some frustration. But we learned a lot of that, too. Nobody of
us was ever in a similar situation. One solution to avoid similar problems
could to launch an autonomous radio B92 international as a sort of center
in the outside world which coordinates all effords concerning different
media. And would focus on international politics the way B92 used to deal
with yugoslav affairs.

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