ALTERNATIVE TV - ATV Banja Luka
The Open Broadcast
Network (OBN) was introduced in the summer of 1996 and started with four
independent affiliated member stations, located within the Muslim-Croat
Federation of Bosnia & Herzegovina. The network – fully funded by members
of the International community – was founded with the objective to provide an
independent, cross-entity television network aiming to increase media pluralism
and thus assisting the development of democratization and stabilization of peace
in Bosnia & Herzegovina.
The network had no
representation in Republika Srpska. It was of paramount importance to support
the establishment of a network member station in the RS - the infrastructure
precondition for true cross-entity broadcasting.
A small correspondent
unit was set up in September 1996 with the objective to provide the networks
central news program with information and current affairs features from the
Republika Srpska. Operating in a difficult and potentially hostile environment
– the OBN program was locally perceived as being Muslim biased – a team of
young journalists managed to gradually increase the networks local credibility
in Banja Luka. Meanwhile the OBN project went through great difficulties while
trying to expand both program volume and quality, to formalize the business
relations between the central studio and the network affiliates and to establish
an operating legal, technical and managerial network infrastructure.
After only a few
months of operation, the Banja Luka bureau was able to increase staffing and
program output thanks to strong and direct relations with individual Donors to
the project. The Donors supported the expansion of the correspondent unit into a
fully fledged independent local TV-station.
It was in June 1997 that Alternativna Televizija
(ATV) registered its broadcast licenses in the court of Banja Luka and the
Ministry of Information. Just shortly after it was legally established the
emerging station faced its biggest professional challenge: the dissolution of
the RS Parliament by the President of the RS Biljana Plavsic followed by the
political struggle between her followers and the radical SDS fraction in Pale.
ATV produced and aired daily news
and current affairs specials from its improvised studio facilities. People
started watching our programs and ATV built creditbility with the audience and
the media community.
ATV has been producing daily local and Network
programs since November 1997. However, the inadequate technical infrastructure
and the lack of proper studio facilities limit the ATV production output. The
ATV studio is an abandoned factory hall. OBNIT committed itself to upgrade
production by accessing earmarked Japanese Government funds for the construction
of an ATV studio. But these funds have never materialized. The lack of proper
studio facilities is critical now that privatization has begun in the RS. ATV
has invested significant amount of money to alter and adapt the facilities
currently in use and plan for a new studio building, ATV may be forced to look
for alternative solutions in case it is not in a position to stay in the
facilities currently in use after privatization.
ATV has an improvised
studio and temporary offices. We produce and broadcast 16 hours of daily
programming. During NATO air strikes on Yugoslavia and afterwards, ATV expanded
its current affairs and news programming. Unlike other TV stations in the region,
ATV did not join the general national euphoria and uncritical re-transmition of
RTS news shows. We broadcast our own programming, using information from our
correspondents in Belgrade, Pristina, Podgorica, B-92 and Radio 021 reports as
long as they were available. We used the APTN news agency, as well as
information from different local and foreign broadcast stations (RTS, RT CG,
CNN, BBC , DW). A total of 230 current affairs programs have been produced
consisting of two daily half-hour newscasts, shorter flash news, live studio
specials and a few TV bridges between Sarajevo and Banja Luka. In addition ATV
produced weekly and bi-monthly current affairs and light entertainment programs.
All of this has been accomplished in an atmosphere of threats and assaults on
ATV and the independent media in Banja Luka. An ATV crew (the only one in Banja
Luka) was harassed by a group of violent demonstrators while filming attacks on
the British Embassy. A cameraman suffered serious injuries and equipment was
Despite threats and
assaults ATV continued to rebroadcast its current affairs programs. In addition
ATV participated actively in a production of TV bridges between ATV and OBN in
Sarajevo. ATV is also active in the production of TV LIBERTY, a TV magazine,
sponsored by RFE.
ATV has covered the
delicate situation in Montenegro, elections in Croatia, elections in B&H and
recent elections in Yugoslavia. (Thanks to our transmitter in Bijeljina we were
viewed in parts of Serbia including Belgrade. Our special daily programming was
often the only source of information for the viewers in Serbia during the
repression of the Serbian independent media). We have never forgotten our
primary task of reporting on the ordinary citizens of B&H and their everyday
problems. Our reporting produced results. Many refugees, orphans and the poor
were properly taken care of only after ATV presented their problems to the
A second stretagy of our programming is based on
commercial programs: sports, series and film programs. This straegy has resulted
in increased revenues. As a result we grew from covering 5% of our budget
initially, to 20% last year, and finally 40% of our budget in just three years.
We have been able to do that in spite the fact that political and economic
climate is bad. There are no legal regulations covering the media; there are too
many TV stations - creating unrealistic competition. We continue to have
problems with OBN; as well as numerous other difficulties and repression.
On 19 August 2000 ATV began
broadcasting from Mount Kozara. The ATV signal covers the northwestern part of
RS and parts of Croatia including Zagreb. In May 2000 ATV began broadcasting
from Mount Majevica covering northeastern parts of the RS including parts of
Serbia (and Belgrade), and Srebrenica.
By completing projects planned
with OTI B-H Office, the ATV footprint will reach the Doboj and Teslic area and
eastern parts of RS, near the Drina river.
The local frequency of ATV covers 5 municipalities of the Banja Luka region (Banja Luka, Laktasi, Srbac, Celinac, Gradiska) with a population of 350.000 people. With its transmitter on Kozara mountain the ATV footprint increased to a region with ca 60% of total RS population (ca. 600 000 people), as well as parts of Croatia, including Zagreb. Installation of a transmitter on Udrigovo point enabled us to cover Brcko and Bijeljina with 300,000 potential viewers as well as parts of Serbia. As a part of this project two new re-broadcasting transmitters will be installed near Doboj and Teslic with another 150,000 potential viewers.
ATV maintains the ethical and aesthetic standards of its viewers.
a) Daily 30 minutes long news show, starting at
19:00. A short newscast at 10, 12,15, 23:00. According to a survey by BLIC MEDIA
made in June/July 1998 ATV news have been rated as the second most trusted
source of information and according to the survey by PRISMA AGENCY in
August 2000 for the Banja Luka area, ATV news have been rated as the first
trusted source of information among citizens.
In the analyses of Media Plan, the Sarajevo agency for
media research, (October 5, 1998) they said: ”ATV Banja Luka, a member of OBN,
has exceptionally high quality of its news, political talk shows and current
affairs programming compared to other TV stations in the Banja Luka region.”
In analysis issued on August 14 2000 the same agency once again put its emphasis
on the professionalism of ATV journalists. Their conclusion was that ATV has
used its donations to good effect.
Production of special features
and documentaries. ATV is regularly invited to attend documentary festivals and
was awarded first priye for the film “THE MOUNTAIN BOY”; the documentary
"IT IS NOT LIKE A SERB TO KEEP QUIET" the life and death of Slavko
Curuvija, a Serbian journalist killed during media repression in Serbia. This
documentary has received numerous awards.
P.O. Box, CH-8031