Al Jazeera Goes Balkan
Central Europe Briefs
Al Jazeera, a television news broadcaster owned by the state of Qatar, launched a Balkans service on 11 Nov.
Broadcasting in Serbo-Croatian, a language spoken with local variations in Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia and Montenegro, but also understood by many Slovenes and Macedonians, Al Jazeera Balkans is the first news channel since the collapse of Yugoslavia in 1990 to target the entire region, with 35 million potential viewers according to the company.
In addition, satellite and cable broadcasting will reach expats around the world, such as the 7% of Viennese whom Statistik Austria records as citizens of ex-Yugoslav states.
Headquartered in Sarajevo (Bosnia), Al Jazeera Balkans also operates offices in Zagreb (Croatia), Belgrade (Serbia), and Skopje (Macedonia), with a permanent staff of 130.
Observers hope that the organisation will bring independent reporting to a region whose media is dominated by political and business interests, The Economist reported.
"I am aware that our programme is a breath of fresh air to the regional media scene," the managing director of Al Jazeera Balkans Tarik Đođić, wrote in a statement to The Vienna Review, "our reporting criteria remain professionalism, objectivity, and space to the ‘other side’."