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Old, New and Radical media in the Republic of Croatia in the early to mid 1990s Marcus Leaning University of Winchester Paper presented at the International Political Studies Association Conference Swansea University 2008
‘History’ of a new media. Croatia, an interesting place: High level of technological development. Different social form – former Communist state. Interesting encounter with a nationalist agenda. Brief account of media landscape in Yugoslavia and Croatia during early 1990s; Emergence of Internet; Immunity from censorship of the internet and CMC; Why? Introduction
‘Cultural inertia’ from Communist times in media. General ethos of the media different to Western democracies – in support of state rather than watchdog model - any contrariness was aimed at other constituent nations rather than against the Yugoslav state. Healthy media - late 1980s 3000 magazines and newspapers, 200 radio stations. Coverage of 1990 elections was model of its kind. Media ethos
Following Tudjman’s rise to power in 1990 the media began to be ‘aligned’ to the nationalist agenda. Mix of overt means such as the 1996 enactment of a series of ‘Public Body’ insult laws – over 300 successful prosecutions for attacking public bodies (including politicians and the president) with covert means. Aligning the media
Distribution: Tisak was state media agency and owned news stands, Govt. withheld payments, lost and misdirected copies; Conscription of journalists and editors – Victor Ivancic; Irregular taxes – ‘pornography’ tax applied to Feral Tribune Covert means of aligning the media: Press
Removal of licences (Telecoms council was heavily pro HDZ (7 of 9 were party members, 2 vice presidents)). – Radio 101 lost its licence but got it back after international outcry, though it severely softened its tone. Main TV channel HRT was very pro Tudjman - head was replaced soon after the election with a HDZ loyalist. Covert means of aligning the media: Broadcasting
First service was Croatian Academic network (CARnet) started 1991 – connected with US NSFNET same time as Taiwan and Singapore. A non commercial ethos - a public service for social benefit - communication, all public buildings, universities, schools etc connected free, dial up accounts free. The Internet - Carnet
An alternative system set up by activists, Zamir (For Peace) at start of war - 1991 People on all sides of war trying to communicate. Systems spread and linked up with: Zagreb, Split, Dubrovnik, Belgrade, Ljubljana, Sarajevo, Pristina. Regarded by themselves as different to government systems. Nowhere near the usage of Carnet. Died out postwar due to no web gate way and with y2k compliancy fears. Zamir-net
A very limited service by IBM for visiting customers of corporate accounts in 1992. Hinet a division of state telecoms system set up in 1996 – (HT Hrvatski later sold at knock down price to Deutch telecom). Iskon, a development of Zamir net launched in 1997. Commercial systems
‘Old media’ subject to heavy restrictions. What about new media? Carnet and commercial systems under state control so is easy. Zamirnet? There should be lots of examples. No accounts of this - very unlike all the other media attacked. One minor complaint by a Dutch activist. It was very possible, as with old media covert means could have been used, but no accounts of this. The effectiveness of the Internet and CMC
Naivety? Debatable – authorities not stupid. Technical ineptitude? They could have done it, systems available. Strategic? Only responded to things that mattered. Nature of debate that was taking place in Croatia at the time and how certain aspects of that were considered threatening by the Tudjman regime.The Internet and CMC did not carry the type of discussion that seemed to bother the authorities – it was, like a lot of the internet discussion fractured in nature, numerous small groups and personal correspondence, not debate at the national level. Why?
This account does not fit the typical description of the power of new media. New media was not thought to have the power to induce social change it is usually thought to have. Perhaps we need to look to social rather than technological factors in understanding social change. Conclusion