f, on Wed, 29 Sep 1999 12:52:16 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> interview with veran matic (b2-92, anem)

	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

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