NI Program Director Igor Bozic said on Wednesday that the decision not to broadcast regular programming for 24 hours was taken as a show of solidarity with Nova S TV.
N1 and Nova S stopped their regular broadcasting on Tuesday airing the words Darkness in Serbia without the free media on a black screen.
Bozic apologized to viewers for not airing regular programming, saying that no one on television likes to shut down programming but that “we had to speak with darkness and show what Serbia would be like without N1 and Nova S”. “The idea was to show solidarity with Nova which is competing for the fifth national frequency license,” he said on the N1 morning show.
According to him, viewers were not told why the two stations stopped regular broadcasts to make people believe that N1 and Nova S are no longer in the cable system.
“The authorities constantly imply that this is in the interest of the owners, not in the interest of free journalism. Our interest is to be seen, if possible all over Serbia. Our interest is for information to be heard that is not directed from one center,” Bozic said and added that the drastic step was intended to push viewers into the reality that could happen if the public does not move a little. “Considering all the pressure we are under, from the demeaning and insulting of journalists, to attacks on the media using financial instruments to prevent anyone from broadcasting us in every possible way… Systematic efforts are underway to push us off the market because the authorities don’t like us, because there isn’t single issue that is forbidden for us,” Bozic said.
The N1 Program Director said that no one knew that opposition MPs would stand up in parliament with signs saying Darkness in Serbia without the free media and denied pro-regime tabloid claims that an N1 reporter handed out the signs. “Pro-regime media construed the event in parliament, claiming that our reporter handed the signs to MPs. That did not happen. Our reporter did not pass out the signs nor did he know what was going to happen. The thing is that there are journalist services there who are prepared to release lies at every moment. The propaganda against us is constant and obstructs us in our work,” Bozic said.
According to Bozic, the competition for the fifth national broadcasting license was called to calm the public following the renewal of the four national licenses to pro-regime stations which were in violation of the rules constantly. “The public forgets as time goes by. That (the competition) was in August and this is December. People forgot the competition and the fact that nothing has changed,” he said.