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    Copyright: The following text is for personal information only. Any professional use or publication in written or electronic form is subject to an agreement with AIM, 17 rue Rebeval, F-75019 Paris, France

    FRI, 11 JUL 1997 22:42:28 GMT

    Mntenegro-Who will be the Master of State Media


    Resignation of the editor-in-chief of state television does not necessarily mean that the political group headed by Momir Bulatovic has lost influence in the media

    AIM Podgorica, 43 July, 1997

    After several months of conflicts at the top of the ruling party and state leadership of Montenegro, a few days ago, the first significant resignation occurred in the group around Momir Bulatovic and his political philosophy. The editor-in-chief of TV Montenegro Vladislav Asanin, pushed against the wall by the majority in the Management Board, was forced to leave the high post. A severe "artillery attack" in the Assembly of Montenegro preceded his departure, where for a time, both the opposition and the deputies of the ruling Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) who support prime minister Djukanovic and chairman of the assembly Svetozar Marovic, fully agreed about the assessment of last year's and this year's tv "accomplishments".

    According to the interpretation of the Republican Secretariat of Information, the editor-in-chief violated the Law by broadcasting the statement of the non-existent organization of the DPS in Kolasin. Obviously giving preference to Momir Bulatovic in the central daily news program was added to this. His recent speech in the Assembly was carried in extenso in the tv report and lasted for 27 minutes, while all the other speakers, seven ministers inclusive, were all togethehr given just two minutes, without a single tone recording. Apart from being undoubtedly removal of one of the foundations of the tv fortress, Asanin's resignation is a considerably reliable indicator of the current relation of forces of the conflicting factions in the Democratic Party of Socialists of Montenegro.

    It was very difficult to extract this resignation, because editor Asanin, who was not a journalist but a pure transmission and party commissar was defended by one of the most reliable and firmest supporters of president Bulatovic, head of the Management Board of RTV Montenegro, Predrag Bulatovic. He failed to defend his editor-in-chief, which does not mean that the other "reform faction", which supports prime minister Djukanovic, will automatically take over TV Montenegrin Bastille after this resignation. The epilogue will be known only after a new editor of television is appointed, which according to promises of the Management Board, should be expected to happen quite soon. The latest developments in this media imply that journalists, announcers, engineers - the employees of Television Montenegro, could get involved in the battle for the screen and the microphones.

    In the middle of March this year about twenty journalists of Radio-Television Montenegro demanded usage of several agency sources, pointing out that the present offer - Tanjug alone, the state agency which advocates and serves the interests of the ruling Serbian political establishment - was insufficient. In the past few days, discontent with the editorial policy and split in the Management Board of RTV Montenegro resulted in a big petition with more than a hundred signatures of the employees: "Radio and TV program and its creators such as they are cannot be logistics in reform processes nor in opening of Montenegro to the world. We wish the media to turn towards state interest, and not to implement a party statute for years", it is stated in the petition. Signatories of the petition addressed the persident of the Republic, the prime minister and the chairman of the Assembly of Montenegro. The genie has been let out of the lamp and it was impossible for managers of Radio-Television to control it any more even though they demanded from some of the workers to deny their signatures. Having shown interest for efforts of the journalists to change some things in the professional and creative sense in Radio-Television Montenegro, initiators of this actual expression of dicontent with the present situation was received and supported by Montenegrin prime minister Milo Djukanovic.

    "We believe", says editor of Radio Montenegro, Slavko Djurdjic, "that only bringing professional and objective journalists to lead our house could bring about opening of the media and only then they could contribute to reforming of the Montenegrin society. It would be bad if instead of Asanin another party bureaucrat would come to the post, who would just be closer to Milo than to Momir". A couple of days later, prime minister Djukanovic himself expressed that he shared the negative opinion about the program with the significant portion of the employees of RTV Montenegro. At a students' panel discussion in Podgorica, without any hesitation and beating around the bush, he declared that during the whole last year state media had given preference to the ruling party.

    But the real battle for Radio and Television Montenegro has most probably just begun and there simply cannot be any compromise or agreement about it in the long run. Should the profession slip again into the gap between the two quarrelling groups, all these personnel changes will just bring new masters who will like their predecessors inevitably resort to prescribing the truth instead of just transmitting it. New intentions and indications concerning public information in Montenegro might be discerned in a few days time when the Management Board of Radio-Television Montenegro determines who the acting editor-in-chief of Montenegrin Television will be.

    AIM Radovan Miljanic