RFE/RL reports on initial audience reactions to the new Al Jazeera Balkans.

Posted: 28 Nov 2011   Print   Send a link
RFE/RL, 26 Nov 2011, Mirna Sadikovic and Daisy Sindelar: "[T]his month, the Qatar-based company went regional, launching a station broadcasting in local languages in the Balkans, with headquarters based in Bosnia-Herzegovina's capital Sarajevo. And its growth is set to continue, with similar channels planned for Turkey and East Africa. Al-Jazeera Balkans (AJB), which debuted November 11, offers six hours of daily programming to all of the countries of the former Yugoslavia, promoting itself as the Balkans' only 'regional' broadcaster. (RFE/RL's Balkans Service offers national and regional radio programming in Serbia, Montenegro, and Bosnia, in addition to national coverage in Kosovo and Macedonia.) ... One writer, 'Kenijada,' praised AJB's polish but quibbled with the station's purported claim to deliver the Balkans' 'untold' stories: 'The region is covered only with thematic pieces, and those come only after 15 minutes of bombings in Afghanistan, Nigeria, Tajikistan...as far as local news and information are concerned, you obviously won't find them on AJ Balkan.' But Dubravko Boban, a 40-year-old telecommunication engineer working in Sarajevo, expressed hope that Al-Jazeera would present a fresh alternative to local media, like the Muslim-Croat semi-public Federation TV and Bosnia's state-run BHTV, which are seen as deeply subjective. ... Although the editorial staff of AJB is almost exclusively local, the Al-Jazeera network employs synchronicity editors to ensure all of its stations follow a consistent news-gathering strategy. Such mechanisms have raised fears in some Balkan observers that Al-Jazeera may have set stakes in the region with the hopes of turning its focus away from Europe and closer to the Middle East. (Al-Jazeera did not respond to phone and e-mail requests for an interview.)" See previous post about same subject.