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Professionelle Solidarität gegen Nationalismus und Chauvinismus
Professional solidarity against nationalism and chauvinism

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ALTERNATIVE TV - ATV Banja Luka

  • BACKGROUND

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 destroyed.

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 world.

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.

 FOOTPRINT

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.

  • TERRITORY COVERED BY ATV TRANSMISSION SIGNAL

  • EDITORIAL POLICY

  • ATV complies fully with the Editorial Charter of the International Federation of Journalists.

  • ATV is an independent local TV station, not controlled by any political group, party or any other organiyation.

  • ATV has an independent approach towards all political parties, democratic organizations and ethnic groups.

  • ATV pays special attention to human rights issues, repatriation of refugees, freedom of movement, and economic development. ATV is focusing its editorial attention on all questions of the Dayton Peace Agreement. ATV current affairs programs reflect the living conditions and experiences of ordinary people.

1.     ATV maintains the ethical and aesthetic standards of its viewers.

  • ATV is an alternative station. A station with a different approach. Our goal is to portray reality objectively with modern and appealing programs.

  • ATV does not engage in piracy. ATV is the only TV station in the region that broadcasts only copyright protected programming.

  • ATV pays special attention to report truthful and objective information about ordinary peoples’ life stories and the common problems of all citizens of BiH. Our editorial staff works hard to avoid political stereotypes and cliches. We do not broadcast unappealing press conferences and long statements by politicians. We believe that news need to be edited objectively and presented in a modern and dynamic form.

  •  PROGRAMMING

News Production

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.

Current Affairs

  • Trace  - a bimonthly  magazine of political news

  • ATV 20 - a bimonthly current affairs magazine

  •  AlterMedia - weekly talk show on current affairs

  • Portrait - in depth studio interviews with local politicians

  • TV REPORTER – a monthly political documentary magazine co-produced with the Newsmagazine: REPORTER

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.

Other production:

  • Lawyers advice

  • Medical advice 

  • Unreal world  - bimonthly  produced magazine for young people

  • Pro Arte /Videopolis- weekly produced magazine on arts and culture

  • Cinema Magica - weekly produced film magazine

  • Asphalt - weekly produced music magazine

  • Rhythm - weekly show on pop music

  • Cooking - daily produced cooking show

  • Sat-Elit – weekly show with stories about the world of entertainment

Other Production and/or programming activities

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.

·         Co-ventures with:

  • ANEM – regular exchange of programming, information and advertisements with the only network of independent electronic media in Serbia.

  • VIN – Exchange of programming with this independent production company from Belgrade

  • CNN – ATV is the only CNN correspondent from B-H. 8 ATV reports broadcast so far in CNN World Report.

  • WTN (APTN) – use of daily news service and occasional dispatch of footage from B-H

  • DEUTSCHE WELLE – occasional reports on current affairs

  • RADIO FREE EUROPE – co-production of a magazine TV Liberty

  • Production of CDs and audio/video tapes for local and other music groups.

  • Organization of festivals and round tables.

 

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