mediawatch-owner on 8 Oct 2000 04:32:29 -0000

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BELGRADE, Friday September 6, 2000 - Among yesterday's wave of people
liberating pro-regime media throughout Serbia, a group of Otpor
activists liberated the premises of Radio B92.  The station was then
handed over to its real owners, the staff and associates who created
the radio and made it the most influential and celebrated broadcaster
in Belgrade in the past decade.     

None of the station's real owners had been inside the premises since
April 2, 1999, when, after an illegal decision by the Belgrade
Business Court, the director of Radio B92 was dismissed by a new
pro-regime management and employees denied access.  The station's
staff were not even permitted to remove their personal belongings and

At the time of the hijack, the station had not broadcast for eleven
days after police serving a banning order had confiscated essential
transmission equipment and thrown the station's editor-in-chief, Veran
Matic, into jail.   

This was the third banning of the Belgrade's highest-rating radio
station.  It had earlier been banned during protest in March, 1991 and
during the winter demonstrations of 1996.  On that occasion, public
pressure forced the government to rescind the ban after less than two
days.  The government claimed then that there had been no ban, instead
making the now notorious claim that the transmissions had been cut by
water seeping into a coaxial cable.      

All permanent staff of Radio B92 were sacked by the usurping
management, and associate contributors left the radio in solidarity.
They stayed together to launch the ANEM project Free B92 and in August
1999 resumed broadcasting as Radio B2-92 on the third frequency of
Studio B Radio until that station was taken over by the Serbian
Government on May 17 this year.     

Even after the takeover of Studio B, Radio B2-92 did not disappear
from the air.  It re-emerged as a regional radio and television
station in collaboration with all stations on the ANEM network and
other friendly electronic media in the region.  In this way it managed
to provide accurate and up-to-date information not only throughout
Serbia, but the entire Balkans, even during the most difficult periods
of the information blockade.  News was distributed 24 hours a day on a
radio program transmitting on several frequencies in an attempt to
avoid constant signal jamming.  It was also broadcast on Net radio on
the most frequently-visited Web site in Yugoslavia, with more than
100,000 visitors daily.  More than 20,000 readers subscribed to a
daily e-mail news bulletin, which in many towns in Serbia was printed
and distributed as a newsletter.  All of these broadcast modules
together make up on totally new electronic news medium, Radio-Web-TV,
which has emerged as a response to the circumstances and the dramatic
events which created it.               

The wheel has turned full circle with the return to the premises of
the original Radio B92 in the Dom Omladine building in central

We salute all the member stations of ANEM and other independent media
for the courage and professionalism they have shown in these most
difficult days and years.  We salute everyone who has been willing to
defend the freedom of expression, whatever the cost.  We salute the
liberators of Radio B92.  In this euphoric moment we also especially
salute all our courageous colleagues who have been murdered by the
cowardly oppressors and not lived to see this day of freedom.  We
salute all our colleagues who have been harassed, beaten and jailed.
Nor have we forgotten the ruthless fines and other forms of repression
of the independent media.  Our task now is to redress these injustices
urgently wherever possible.

The independent media have done their part of the job in introducing
democratic change to this society despite all the obstacle and brutal
repression to which they have been subject.  ANEM and Free Radio B92
will remain dedicated to the principles of professional work and the
truthful and accurate provision of information to the public.  Only
the scope of that work will  be broadened as we embrace even more
modern media technology.      

Veran Matic,
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