July 11, 2003




The Vienna-based South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), a network of editors, media executives and leading journalists in South East Europe and an affiliate of the International Press Institute (IPI), is deeply concerned about the changes in programme time for minority programmes on the state-controlled Novi Sad televison.

According to information before SEEMO, on 23 June 2003 Novi Sad television started with a new programme scheme by transfering all the programmes in minority languages from the first TV channel to the second one, which has a low emitting quality. For minorities living in certain parts of Vojvodina that means that they will not be able to receive the programme in their mother tongue. For example, neither the Hungarian population living in Coka, Senta and Kanjiza communes, nor the citizens of West Backa and Banat, can now follow the Hungarian programme. The second Novi Sad TV channel should be technically mended in order to reach all the minority population living in Vojvodina.

SEEMO is informed that the Serbian-language programme has been enlarged and became a 24-hour programme on the first TV channel, whereas programmes in minority languages have been shortened. The current programme scheme does not satisfy the needs of minorities living in Vojvodina, since the quality of the programme has worsened.

Furthermore, SEEMO is informed that the Hungarian editorial team has only 24 employees, because 11 people have resigned in the past two years for different reasons and the office can employ only one person at the time. It is vital that the rationalisation of the employees is done in the public service and on state owned media, but it is absurd that this action is done within editorial teams of minority programmes, because it is known that they suffer a lack of employees. There must be enough qualified journalists in order to produce a qualitative minority programme and to satisfy the needs of the audience groups.