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RFE/RL Service Expands Coverage of Both Sides in Kosovo Violence

(Prague/Washington — March 24, 2004) RFE/RL’s South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service (SSALS) broadcast live, eyewitness reports last week from both the Serbian and Albanian enclaves of Mitrovica, as the worst violence seen in Kosovo since 1999 raged in the ethnically-divided town. As a result, RFE/RL provided its multilingual audience in Serbia and Kosovo timely, accurate and comprehensive coverage of the violence and how it began.

SSALS Director Omer Karabeg said that the service’s correspondents in the ethnic Serb northern section and ethnic Albanian southern section of Mitrovica each provided live reports to their respective language programs throughout the crisis and were themselves exchanging information via a constant telephone connection through the Kosovar capital of Prishtina. Karabeg said that both correspondents’ work was under the editorial control of RFE/RL’s bureau chief in Prishtina, Arbana Vidishiqi.

The service also produced four hours of special programming last weekend on the crisis, which featured among other coverage, the first broadcast dialogue following the violence between prominent political representatives of both the ethnic Albanian and Serb communities — Adem Demaci and Oliver Ivanovic. Although neither party agreed with the other on any issue relating to the violence, they did discuss and listen to each other about the events that that had occurred just days before.

The SSALS was created by RFE/RL in 1994 as a multiethnic, multilingual broadcast service to the peoples of the former Yugoslavia. The service first broadcast programming in Bosnian, Croatian and Serbian; it added programs in Albanian to Kosovo in 1999 and in Macedonian in 2001. The SSALS broadcasts nearly 11 hours a day of programming in the several languages, that are rebroadcast on affiliates located throughout Bosnia, Serbia, Kosovo, Macedonia and Montenegro. The service also manages a network of 35 Bosnian affiliates that jointly produces 2 hours of programming every day, and produces a weekly, half-hour television news magazine, “TV Liberty,” that is rebroadcast by 26 local affiliates in Bosnia. SSALS Albanian programming is available on the Internet at, while Macedonian content can be viewed at and Bosnian and Serbian content can be viewed at

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