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18 Jan 11

Zeljko Mitrovic: Mr. Pink

The owner of the region’s leading broadcasting empire has overcome numerous controversies to become the Balkan No.1.

Slobodan Georgijev
Belgrade Insight

Zeljko Mitrovic, 43, was recently hospitalised, his company, Pink International announced, because of physical fatigue. His business empire however, is firmly in the pink.

National daily Blic recently crowned him as their media king in a listing of the most influential people in the industry and whilst this may not be formal recognition, everyone in the media business knows that it is a fact. His company operates in all of the former Yugoslav republics except Croatia, and in each of them, his TV stations have the highest ratings.

He started in business as a recording studio owner in the late eighties, after his pop band October 1864 themselves stopped recording. From that small enterprise he founded Pink Radio which swiftly captured the highest ratings in the country. The station’s programmes featured turbo folk music and throughout the nineties, Pink became synonymous with the genre.

Moving into TV in the mid nineties, Mitrovic’s media empire  grew strong on low-brow cheap programming: nude girls and macho men with big gold chains singing ‘new folk music’ (‘urban folk’ some call it nowadays). He was a member of Yugoslav left, the party run by Milosevic’s wife, Mira Markovic.

Zeljko ‘Arkan’ Raznatovic a high profile ‘businessman’ and alleged war criminal was a regular at the Pink studios and the station broadcast his wedding to folk diva Svetlana ‘Ceca’ Velickovic live.

He explained his editorial policy by saying that he didn’t know what people meant by kitsch and that it was entirely normal for a privately owned broadcaster to transmit commercial programmes.

“Ratings of the programmes are the main criteria for me” he said.

After Milosevic’s downfall, liberals expected that Mitrovic’s empire would collapse but nothing could be further from the truth. In the last ten years Mitrovic has gained the respect of many of his former critics and enemies. His TV station in Bosnia had, as its first editor, Petar Lukovic, a famous regional columnist, who in the nineties had complained in his columns about Pink’s trashy programming.

Aside from Pink International, Mitrovic’s business empire incorporates a chewing gum company and Fashion TV in south east Europe. He has 4 children from two marriages and several expensive boats. His legendary parties on the Adriatic seaside have become annual celebrity events.

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