Memorandum submitted by BBC World Service
1. Perhaps nowhere else in Europe are the
BBC's editorial valuesimpartiality, accuaracy, fairness
and independenceof such immediate significance as in this
region. They enable the World Service to speak with a common set
of standards and values, in whatever the language and to whatever
the target audience. It is these values that make the World Service
stand out among its competitors and create a relationship of trust
with its audiences.
2. The World Service last submitted evidence
on this subject to the Committee in September 1999. Since then,
the fall of President Milosevic has radically altered its postition
in Serbia. Until October 1998, 33 radio stations in Serbia had
been carrying World Service programmes, when the Milosevic government
suddenly banned all rebroadcasting. After that, the only way the
World Service could reach these audiences was on short wave or
through the Internet. When Serbia woke up with a new President
on 6 October 2000, BBC World Service was the only international
radio station to be rebroadcast locally, by the independent station
Radio B92 in Belgrade.Within two weeks the BBC's Serbian programming
could be heard on six stations broadcasting from eight FM transmitters,
covering 50 per cent of the Serbian population. There are also
eight stations rebroadcasting the World Service in Montenegro,
carrying all the Serbian programming as well as a daily 15 minute
slot specially produced for Montenegro. Funds for this have been
specifically earmarked from the Three-Year settlement agreed last
3. This means that the World Service has
now become an effective voice in the reconstruction of Serbian
society and is establishing the same kind of presence that it
already has in Kosovo and Bosnia. One of its major strengths is
its intergrated editorial approach. The Serbian service not only
carries interviews with the major political players in the new
Serbian and Yugoslavian Governments, it also broadcasts material
on Kosovo and Albania obtained from the Albanian section. The
fact that its output is now regularly quoted in the Serbian mediapress,
radio and TVis a further indication of its impact. Planned
future programming will address key cross-regional issues, particularly
developments in Kosovo and Montenegro.
Moreover, the BBC's correspondent based in Belgrade,
Jacky Rowland, has provided a consistently outstanding service
for the World Service throughtout 1999 and 2000.
4. In Kosovo the World Service broadcasts
24 hours a day in Albanian, Serbian, Turkish and English on its
own frequency in Pristina. The Albanian output is also rebroadcast
by seven other stations throughout Kosovo, eg in Prizren and Mitrovica.
Recent programming has included interviews with Ibrahim Rugova,
Adem Demaci, the leaders of the Serbian (Oliver Ivanovic) and
Albanian (Bajram Rexhepi) communities in Kosovska Mitrovica, the
commander of the American troops in Gjilane and Father Sava of
the Serbian community in Kosovo. The Albanian Service also broadcast
a live phone-in programme on the Serbian minority in Kosovo with
Bernard Kouchner and Hashim Thaci jointly, produced with Radio
21 in Pristina. For the near future high-impact programming on
the central problems of the region is planned, again jointly with
local stations. Among the subjects will be the problems of the
buffer zone in Eastern Kosovo, personal security in the border
areas and the situation of women after the conflict.
5. Although radio will remain the principal
way of reaching audiences in Yugoslavia and Kosovo, the World
Service will also continue to offer news in audio and text on
the internet in Serbian and Albanian.
6. In addition to this, the World Service
Trust addresses the training and development needs of a severely
distorted media environment in the region. The World Service Trust
runs the BBC School of Journalism in Sarajevo, funded by DflD,
where over 350 journalists from a mix of ethnis groups have been
trained since its opening in 1996.
7. During 2000, the World Service Trust
delivered a series of training programmes for journalists from
Serbia, Montenegro and Kosovo. The training was designed to build
professional skills and capacity in key areas: reporting diversity,
election reporting, professional development and institution building.
The groundbreaking "Reporting Diversity" seminars brought
together broadcast journalists from across the region to discuss
for the first time local coverage of the Kosovo crisis. This innitiative
was supported by the FCO's Eastern Adriatic Department.
8. This year, the Trust will be launching
a journalist training programme in Podgorica and Belgrade, where
a new European Centre for Broadcast Journalism will be located.
The project is a partnership between the World Service Trust,
Radio Nederland and Deutsche Welle and is wholly funded by the
Dutch Ministry for Development and Co-operation. The Trust will
also be the joint organiser of a conference under the auspices
of the Stability Pact on the transformation of the media, in particular
of public service broadcasting.
9. In Montenegro a three-year project is
now underway to restructure the public service broadcaster RTV
10. In Kosovo the World Service Trust will
carry out a three-month programme tp provide in-station support
for radio Kosovo, covering news production and programming skills.
Their will also be two further in-station support schemes for
the Serb minority station Radio KiM.
11. Jointly with the British council, the
World Service will meet the increased need for English learning
in Yugoslavia and Kosovo.
12. Overall, Yugoslavia and Kosovo remain
a very high priority for the World Service. In the task of post-conflict
reconstruction both World Service programming and the project
work of the World Service Trust play an essential part.