Balkan Busts, Bloodshed Continue

While the bombs might have stopped falling, the casualties in Yugoslavia’s war on independent media are still coming in. In fact, the military respite Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic has is giving him more energy and resources to devote to rooting out any remaining opposition and consolidating his power.

It is not a war of words, either. Central to the conflict is radio station B92, a 200-watt free radio station in the capital city of Belgrade. After ten years on the air (and two busts during that time), a third – and possibly final – one happened shortly before NATO bombs began to fall on Serbia and Kosovo.

The Yugoslav central government raided Radio B92, seizing its equipment and briefly detaining its chief operators. After maintaining firm control over the hardware, authorities apparently upgraded it, assembled a new “management team,” and opened up a “new” Radio B92 a few days after the raid – with a signal five times stronger than the original B92 ever put out. Read More

The Yugoslav Crackdown on Free Radio

All good things must come to an end, and it appears that’s the case with Yugoslavia’s B92. The Belgrade broadcasters had been an unlicensed, full-service community radio station in every sense of the word.

When the NATO air campaign began, B92’s importance changed significantly. Only hours before the first bombs fell, Yugoslav authorities confiscated B92’s transmitter and arrested and detained its founder for about eight hours.

The station wasn’t intimidated, though: it became a coveted source of information to the rest of the world from inside a country under political siege. Internet and satellite uplinks from B92 staffers continued – until Friday. Read More

Free Radio Under Fire

Standing center-stage in the world headlines right now is the current NATO military campaign against Yugoslav military targets in the province of Kosovo. Ideology and other issues aside, information as to what’s happening inside the country right now is sketchy, as all journalists from NATO countries have been expelled from the province and from other key locations in Yugoslavia where regular updates on action can be obtained.

Fortunately for the world, and not so for the Serbian-controlled government, intrepid broadcasters who’ve been counteracting state-controlled media influence are right in the thick of things. And this isn’t just a ragtag bunch of activists looking to make a statement, staring at official letters threatening court action or fines.

These “pirate” broadcasters have it all on the line – and the risk could be life or death. Read More