Yesterday I accompanied the school’s high school journalism class on a tour of the B 92 media company. The “B” stands for Belgrade and “92” comes from their original radio broadcast frequency, 92.5 FM. Besides radio, they have two television channels, an internet site, book publishing company, music production company, and a cultural center. Sasa Mirkovic, one of the founders of the B 92, showed us around the B 92 complex yesterday in New Belgrade.
B 92 is famous for its role in the 90’s fall of Milosevic. They were one of the few independent media outlets and their radio station supported peace and protest rallies against the government and their policies. They were shut down and taken over by the government three different times. They were also shut down during the 1999 NATO bombing because they were a target. One of the founders, Dragan Dilas, is now mayor of Belgrade.
Today B 92 is the third most popular television outlet in Serbia. Their 11:00 news program is very popular in the city. I appreciate their English language web site which I link to on this blog. Their cable news channel is carried throughout the region and into Austria. They are still regarded as a serious source of independent news in the country. They balance this will “infotainment” and Sasa explained the business side of media. I was particularly interested in hearing about the delicate political side to this. The two largest advertising agencies in the country are owned by prominent politicians, hence B 92 is somewhat limited in freedom of the news. It sounds not much different than the US today, with Fox being very Republican and CNN more Democratic. Both of the advertising agencies are linked to the current pro-Europe integration liberal movement.
I was surprised at the size of the operation. The building was once the Yugoslav national bank building. They have over 500 employees. The news room was similar to the CNN Center I toured several years ago. I would like to thank Sasa, Ray (the journalism teacher above with me) and B92 for arranging this informative visit.
You can see more photos and videos on my flickr.com web site.