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news 10 Jul 15

Belgrade’s Radio B92 Axes Most Remaining Staff

Most of the surviving employees of Radio B92 were fired on July 9 - in what one newly unemployed staffer called the 'last nail in the coffin' of the once famous symbol of media freedom.

Igor Jovanovic

Belgrade's Radio B92 sacked 12 of its remaining 17 employees on Thursday as part of a “new concept” for the station which forms part of the B92 media organization, owned by Greece's Antena media group. 

Ljiljana Neskovic, from B92’s management told BIRN that eight of 12 fired people were permanent employees. “The four others were hired under contracts that have expired and will not be renewed,” she said.

The Journalists’ Association of Serbia posted on its internet site that Radio B92 would now stop broadcasting its news program, one of the trademarks of the station in its glory days.

Neskovic denied that, however. “We are about to change the concept but the radio is going to maintain the news programme,” she said.

The same day, B92 Internet portal posted that Radio B92 is about to introduce its summer scheme.

“Innovation and modernization includes technological advancement, and consequently the change to the organizational structure,” it announced, saying nothing about the layoffs.

One of the employees who was fired, insisting on anonymity, told BIRN that he was sacked “without real explanation and at the end of the working hours.

“There were a lot of rumours recently among the employees that B92 is about to be sold to new owners but we still did not see this coming,” he said.

Media reports recently said that KKR, an investment fund headed by former CIA director David Petraeus, was looking to buy up two Serbian media outlets – B92 and Prva Television, both owned by Antena.

Another employee who was also fired on Thursday told BIRN that this was “just the end of the sad story about Radio 92”, after it was sold the last time.

“The radio practically has lost all the importance it once had. This is just the last nail in its coffin,” the former employee said.

The layoffs at Radio B92 are only one part of a new wave of redundancies in the Serbian media. The Independent Journalists’ Association of Serbia says at least 15 employees were fired from Ringier Axel Springer Serbia in May.

The management of the company, which owns several dailies and magazines in Serbia, have said redundancies were inevitable due to the difficult economic situation in Serbia.

The announced privatizations of 74 state-owned media in Serbia, employing some 2,000 staff in total, raise concerns that several hundred more people could end up jobless before the process wraps up.

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