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Radio-Television of Serbia (1989-2009): The Changing Role of State TV in Post-communist Country

Radovic, Ivanka
Committee Members: 
Dr. Sam Swan
August 2010

Abstract: This study examined the differences in reporting in Radio-Television of Serbia's (RTS) main newscast, Dnevnik 2, between the period of Slobodan Milosevic’s rule (1989-2000) and the period after the establishment of democracy in Serbia (2001-2009). The data were gathered by the content analysis of 63 RTS newscasts in the period 1989-2009. The research included quantitative analysis as well as additional observations of RTS newscasts noted at the time of coding. The major findings suggest that in the democratic period (2001-2009) RTS newscasts become shorter, more consistent in duration, less dedicated to coverage of state and ruling party officials’ activities, and more inclined to reporting about social issues and other political events. The number of voices in RTS newscasts became significantly higher. The overall reporting became more balanced and more diverse. At the same time RTS kept the old priority in news reporting which put Official Stories in leading positions and remained occasionally inclined to increase the number of Official Stories in times of important political events. Based on these results this study derived the following hypotheses for state/public service television stations in countries in transition: 1) consistency of duration of newscasts increases as the regime in the country becomes less controlling 2) the dominance of Official Stories decreases as the regime in the country becomes less controlling 3) the number of sound bites in newscasts increases as the regime becomes less controlling (the number of voices in newscasts increases as the democracy progresses), and 4) the coverage of Official Stories increases in times of important domestic political events, possibly those that have endangered national security, even if the regime becomes less controlling.