felipe rodriquez on Wed, 14 Apr 1999 17:22:39 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> FW: B92 Press Release

-----Original Message-----
From: owner-discussion@hippiesfromhell.org
[mailto:owner-discussion@hippiesfromhell.org] On Behalf Of Maurice
Sent: Tuesday, April 13, 1999 9:56 PM
To: discussion@hippiesfromhell.org
Subject: B92 Press Release



BELGRADE, April 13, 1999 -- The new management of Radio B92, headed by
the self-styled manager, Aleksandar Nikacevic, seized control of Radio
B92 from the hands of its staff on April 2, 1999, with no legal grounds
to do so. Radio B92 is a socially owned company. Under Serbian law this
means that the employees of the company are responsible for hiring and
firing senior management. The new management was appointed by the
Belgrade Youth Council, which claims that Radio B92 is its subsidiary.

Ten days earlier, on March 24, the Yugoslav Telecommunications Ministry
banned Radio B92, seizing essential transmission equipment to prevent
the resumption of broadcasts. To justify this, the Ministry alleged that
B92 had exceeded its maximum permitted transmission power of 300 W. In
fact B92 had been broadcasting at between 190 and 220 W. It appears that
the ban on transmission does not apply to the usurping management. On
April 12, that management began broadcasting from the B92 transmitter on
92.5 MHz, using the "B92" call signal.

The transmission power is approximately 1,000 W.

Why did a group of war profiteers close to government circles get the
green light to seize Radio B92 as a trophy of war? The reason most often
cited is a letter from B92 Editor-in-Chief Veran Matic. The letter,
which was published in the New York Times and Le Monde, protested
against NATO's military intervention in Yugoslavia. It also criticised
the Milosevic government.

Radio B92 has been familiar to Belgraders for almost a decade. In the
past three years it has become known worldwide as a champion of
democracy and free speech in Serbia. All the staff of this Belgrade
broadcaster have expressed the strongest opposition to the usurping
management. No staff member has or will cooperate in any way with them,
nor will they collaborate in ruining the reputation it has taken them a
decade to build. The team of the only legitimate Radio B92 emphasises
that it has no connection with the program which began broadcasting
yesterday on the 92.5 MHz frequency in Belgrade.

Radio B92 has traditionally been a rallying-point for the Belgrade
public. Under normal circumstances we would call on that public to
defend the radio they trust, the radio which rates Number One in
Belgrade. However, thanks to the war and the critical situation in the
country, the closure and takeover of the station have gone unreported in
most media. In these circumstances the Radio B92 team is restricted to
seeking redress through the courts for the unscrupulous takeover of the
station and the destruction of the name and image of Radio B92, both
within Yugoslavia and abroad.

The legal procedures so far begun include an appeal against the court
decision appointing Aleksandar Nikacevic manager of Radio B92. Charges
have also been pressed against Nikacevic and the Belgrade Youth Council
director, Vlada Zagradjanin, for unlawful seizure of the Belgrade
premises and equipment of ANEM, the Association of Independent
Electronic Media in Yugoslavia. ANEM, of which Radio B92 is a founding
member, is a totally separate business entity from B92 and its takeover
is not supported by even the putative court decision invoked in the case
of B92.

The staff of B92 will also demand the revocation of new company
documents registered by the courts and used to facilitate the takeover
of the station. These documents were lodged by a person not authorised
to do so.

The staff of Radio B92 assert that the state of war must not mean
anarchy. On the contrary, it should result in the strictest respect for
the law. Since the moment they first charged in and took control of our
studios by force, the usurpers have taken one illegal step after

The staff of Radio B92 are compelled to acknowledge that force is on the
side of the usurping management. They emphasise, however, that law and
justice are not.

This is the third time in its ten-year history that our station has been
banned. We shall endeavour to preserve the Radio B92 team and to begin a
number of projects. These will clearly prove that the Radio B92 known to
the world before this forced takeover still exists. The B92 staff have
managed to preserve the station's web site under their control. This
will not be updated until the radio is returned to its staff.

The most radical manifestation so far of Serbia's Draconian repression
of its independent media was the murder, just two days ago, of Slavko
Curuvija, the owner and editor-in-chief of the independent daily Dnevni
telegraf and the fortnightly Evropljanin. This appalling crime has made
it almost impossible to guarantee safety and normal working conditions
for independent media and journalists.

In addition to the enemy within, a new enemy without has appeared.
Friendly mentions of independent media in Yugoslavia by politicians from
NATO countries have been interpreted in this country as calls for the
lynching of staff from those media. Radio B92 has been by far the most
prominent target for such attacks.

The primary aim of B92's leadership is now to protect all staff members
from blackmail, arrest, satanisation and libellous accusations of
espionage and fifth columnism. All of this in a country now debating the
reintroduction of the death penalty.

While the NATO bombing continues, it is practically impossible to
establish any serious action which would return Radio B92 to its staff.
There is no institution in the country which could help in these
conditions. The team built up over ten years is now held hostage to
circumstances. Offices and telephones are hard to come by, there is no
gasoline, communication systems are breaking down. The leaders of the
B92 team are under constant surveillance. All this has reduced their
ability to take action.

Despite these difficulties, B92 will endeavour to maintain the
continuity of its work. We expect to soon accommodate the laid-off team
in new premises. In the meantime B92 will launch an action to support
the 45 full-time employees and some thirty part-time staff. Project Free
B92, launched by Help B92, will play an important role in this.

We call on international organisations, media, and other friendly
parties to express their solidarity with Project Free B92 and assist us
in establishing a new infrastructure for our activities. This would
enable us to organise a number of projects to promote freedom of speech
and expression and to be ready to resume work the moment the military
intervention in Yugoslavia comes to an end.

The Real B92 staff

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