Intervista con il giornalista di Radio Index, Pedja Urosevic.
Testo in inglese.
About the Radio Index
Until 1998, Radio Index was the University radio, but throughout the years it lost this prefix under strange circumstances. During the eighties, there were two youth radio programs: "Index 202", and "The Rhythm of the Heart". The editors, of both programs were Veran Matic (today the director of ANEM- The Association of Independent Electronic Media), and Nenad Cekic (today the director and editor- in- chief of Radio Index). In May 1989 Matic and Cekic founded Radio B92, at the expense of the then-governing communists. Both Matic and Cekic held the position of editor through the support of the Communist Party as Pedja Urosevic, journalist from the Radio Index explained.
After a short period of time Matic and Cekic, having different conceptions and visions, split up. Urosevic comments that this was a positive thing to happen, because as a result of that split at the beginning of the 90's, two youth and alternative radio stations were formed. One was Radio B92 and the other was Radio Index. The editors in chief of the two radio stations were, and still are Veran Matic (B92) and Nenad Cekic (Radio Index). Urosevic explained that Radio Index stopped being the university radio in year 1998 while the Radio Index was closed. It was then that Index was divided from the University, "which I doubt was legal", commented Urosevic. After that period, during which the Index was shut down, it began functioning illegally, without any broadcast licence. "Today we have the same situation. We are still waiting for the government to announce the tender for the frequencies", said Urosevic.
It was in 1996/97 during the Student protests, and on October 5, 2000, that Radio Index was listened to the most. According to some informal opinion polls, on October 5, 2000,around 1 300 000 people listened to this station, because it was the only station in Serbia broadcasting live the events on the streets of Belgrade.
Problems Radio Index was facing during the Milosevic reign
Urosevic described the period of Milosevic's reign as a very hard one, both from the professional point of view, and also the existential one. "As professionals we had problems with getting in touch with the politicians that were in power during the last ten years. It was impossible to get a statement from any of them, except at the press conferences where we were given answers to questions they wanted us to ask them", described Urosevic. "There was constant pressure floating in the air", remembers Urosevic. Urosevic also recalled some of the drastic situations, as for instance, during the demonstrations when the journalists were the first to be beaten and maltreated by the police.
"However the hardest period for the journalists of Radio Index, was in year 2000 when Milosevic shut down Radio B92. The offices of B92 were at the same floor as ours. After the closing of B92, instead of having B92 as neighbours, there was a special police unit, which stayed there for two weeks. That was also a way to intimidate the journalists trying to broadcast all the information Milosevic was hiding and did not want to hear" said Urosevic. Urosevic explained that Index was probably left open, because the authorities needed some kind of proof that there was still one independent radio station in existence, which was not being controlled by the regime.
Problems Radio Index is Facing Today
Urosevic pointed out that the major problem for the people working at Radio Index today is a financial one, while also adding that journalists still do not have any kind of normal atmosphere to work in. He described the financial situation as catastrophycal, stressing that the journalists are on the fringes of the existence. Urosevic also commented that today the politicians are simulating an ideal atmosphere, by talking to pensioners, workers, and children, but it is all marketing propaganda. "However it is much better than it was during the previous regime, when politicians did not even try simulating, they were just thinking they were untouchable", commented Urosevic.
The future of the Independent Media in Serbia
Urosevic compared the issue of the future development of Serbian independent media with a psyche of the men living in Serbia, which has been quite shaken and disoriented in the past decade. He said that there are some independent media, whose main board has been stealing the money from donations, and spending it on private needs. "There is no help for this kind of media", commented Urosevic.
"The only chance for the independent media to function (here I take into account the media who survive by providing the financial support from its own marketing campaigns) would be to become incorporated into associations with the other media, but here we again have the already mentioned problem emerging. In Serbia everyone thinks he is the wisest one, it is a custom here to hear someone saying: Just give me the money and I will make a miracle of a network. However behind these words one is thinking: Give me the money and I will keep the bigger part of it for me. That is the major obstacle, hence the radio stations are in a bad state", describes Urosevic.
"At the moment the real state is that the independent media in Serbia is capable of just providing music programs. The only chance for independent media, at the moment when Serbia is in a period of transition without a strong market, is foreign monitoring and organisation", continued Urosevic.
Urosevic gave the following conclusion: "At the end I would just want to express my own feeling by one metaphor. Suddenly one horse realised that its leg was broken, and as well realised horrified that it is expected of it to be a race horse, so soon someone would ease its pains and kill it.
My conclusion would be that in Serbia is the independent media that horse".