četrtek, december 16, 2004

To sem jaz update: Official website a hit

According to the Croatian media, the official To sem jaz website at www.toasumjas.com.mk is attracting a record number of hits. In the first three days that it was possible to watch the show over the internet, some 340,000 people visited the site – a record number for a Macedonian website [Večernji list / 15.12.04 / Tisuće surfera na netu zbog ’To sam ja’].

Previous To sem jaz updates:

15.11.04 Reality TV show to join former Yugoslavs

13.12.04 Slovenes not interested, Bosnians threaten to sue
13.12.04 Sex, live
13.12.04 Two contestants expelled

MTV Adria to launch next fall

MTV Adria, which will cover the countries of the former Yugoslavia, is expected to launch as a satelite channel in August 2005 according to the Croatian media [Večernji List / 14.12.04 / Hrvatska 2005. dobiva svoj MTV!].

In its initial launch, MTV Adria will serve Slovenia, along with Bosnia and Croatia. By 2006, according to the initial plans, it will be expanded to cover Macedonia and Serbia and Montenegro as well. The concept calls for MTV Adria's playlist to be composed of 80 percent foreign productions and 20 percent local.

Negotiations over the creation of MTV Adria have been going on for nearly one year, between local parters and MTV representatives [Finance / 04.11.04 / MTV Adria v režiji Jurija Schollmayerja

and Finance / 06.12.04 / Rok za MTV Adria je konec leta].

Repairs to Nama set for January

Repairs to the glass facade of Ljubljana's Nama department store are finally set to begin. The company's advisory board has decided that work can commence on replacing the two glass panels that fell from the building, crashing onto busy Slovenska street below.

The advisory board acted on the basis of two independent expert reports that state that none of the glass panels are of a sufficient quality, and that their installation was not properly done. Now, the company is prepared to remove the remaining panels and instal an entirely new glass facade that meets European safety standards.

Work is expected to begin in January and conclude by April 2005. Nama will remain open while the work is being done [Delo / 15.12.04 / Veleblagovnico Nama bodo preoblekli].

Earlier this year, two of the panels fell from the building onto the street for unknown reasons. No one was injured, but the impact of the safety glass on the street was equivalent to fifty kilograms of sand dropped from the same height and could have killed passers by [SB / 16.11.04 / Glass falling from Ljubljana's Nama].

Minority report suppressed for supporting rights for former Yugoslavs?

The latest update of Transitions On Line includes a report by Borut Mekina about a new report on minorities in Slovenia that is causing a controversy. Even though the government commissioned the report from the Institute for Ethnic Studies, it is suppressing the final product. The report was completed last year, but only now has the public become aware of its existence; the government declared the text a state secret.

The report deals with the situation of the country's three official national minorities: the Hungarians, Italians and Roma. But it also explores the status of the nearly 200,000 people in Slovenia who belong to former Yugoslav nationalities, such as the Serbs, Croats and Bosniaks. These people, though far greater in number than the three official minorities, have no special rights in Slovenia.

TOL suggests that the Institute for Ethnic Studies report was classified because it recommends that the former Yugoslav groups be granted national minority status, and all the benefits that would entail [TOL / 15.12.04 / Slovenia: National Minorities as State Secrets].

In September, the Serbian Ministry of the Disapora formally requested that the Slovene government name Serbs as an official national minority. Meanwhile, an umbrella organization of more than 60 associations representing former Yugoslav nationalities, the Coordinating Union of Cultural Societies of the Constituative Nations and Nationalities of the Former Socialist Federative Republic of Yugoslavia in the Republic of Slovenia, led by Dr. Ilija Dimitrievski, continues to push for recognition for all former Yugoslav groups [SB / 15.11.04 / Serbs to become official minority?].

torek, december 14, 2004

Ryanair giving away tickets

Travellers have until midnight on Thursday, 16 December, to get free tickets on Ryanair. The only cost is the applicable taxes. A one-way flight from Klagenfurt/Celovec to London, for example, will cost 18 euroes.

Tickets must be bought immediately, and travel must occur between 17 December and 10 February 2005.

Ryanair currently flies to 19 countries in Europe. The closest points of departure from Slovenia are Klagenfurt/Celovec and Graz/Gradec in Austria, and Trieste/Trst in Italy [BWF / 13.12.04 / Ryanair Ticket Bonanza and Finance / 13.12.04 / Ryanairove vozovnice bodo zastonj].

Slovene companies leading other EU newbies'

According to Slovenia Business Week, "The magic one-billion-euro revenue mark was crossed by 54 companies from eight of the new EU member states last year, and among the 1,000 major companies from the new EU members, one tenth are Slovenian," citing a 6 December issue of Gospodarski vestnik [SBW / 13.12.04 / 10% of Top 1,000 Companies from EU Newcomers Are Slovenian].

Though Slovenia's rightful share of spots on the list would one-tenth of the companies on the list, since there were ten new member states, it should be pointed out that only eight of the countries were included. Of them, Poland had 442 companies on the list, the Czech Republic 171, Slovakia 59 and the three Baltic republics together 22. Slovenia managed to place 99 of its companies.

Oil company Petrol was the highest ranked among Slovene firms, placing 40th overall. Next was Renault-owned auto maker Revoz, at 80th place, followed by Nova Ljubljanska Banka (81), retailer Mercator (86th), drug maker Lek (97th) and appliance maker Gorenje (107).

ponedeljek, december 13, 2004

Cartoon vs. the Vatican in Croatia

Most Slovene TV watchers are familiar with the Croatian cartoon series Zlikavci (Hoodlums), which airs late-night on Fridays on HTV 2. Saturday’s Sobotna priloga highlighted the troubles the series is having with Catholic believers [Delo / 11.12.04 / Vse gre v vražjo mater!],

A group of Catholic faithful, led by Father Stjepan Fridl and Radio Marija, are up in arms over the series and are threatening to stage protests and to send petitions unless HRT takes the cartoon off the air. They have also threatened to send tapes of the show to the pope himself. For their part, the show’s creators and supporters say that if HRT suffers from any pressure over Zlikavci, they will move the show to a "friendlier and more democratic" country: North Korea.

Zlikavci revolves around four children, similar in concept and appearance to the South Park characters. Episodes usually take place in school, where contemporary social and political issues are discussed in a tongue-in-cheek and highly irreverent manner. For the Catholic protestors, however, the most offensive character is the kids’ religion teacher, Father Vjeran Božić.

Zlikavci creator Goran Pirš-Piro told Sobotna priloga, however, "It is wrong to think that it is a cartoon that only deals with the Church. The kids and their teacher talk about everything. It is a weekly column that deals with current events – from soccer, Slovenes and Severina to the parish priest who would not allow a blind man into church."

Sobotna priloga agrees: "Of course, it is possible to wonder whether Zlikavci really does offend the Church. Maybe it does, but then other groups should also be offended, such as young people, politicians, celebrities, minorities, Slovenes, Zagorci, gays, women… No one else has spoken up, since they understand the concept of the cartoon."

Visually, Zlikavci draws its inspiration from the American cartoon series South Park, but its spiritual inspiration comes from Zločesta djeca, a popular 1980s show on Zagreb’s Radijo 101. That show ended in the early 1990s, but its cast today are the backbone of Zlikavci.

To sem jaz update: Two contestants expelled

Even before the first two contestants could be voted out of the To sem jaz house, two of them managed to get themselves disqualified on 8 December: Gordana Dimitrievska and Filip Hristovski, both of the Macedonians.

Filip was disqualified for mistreating his female housemates, and for talking to people outside the secret Skopje villa where the cast is living. Contestants are only allowed to communicate with the moderators and guests of the show, and are otherwise supposed to be cut off from the outside world.

Gordana, on the other hand, was disqualified for throwing a mug at Edis, one of the Croatian contestants, during a heated argument. He managed to get out of the way, and the mug shattered on the floor, but a piece of the broken glass hurt the mouth of Admir, one of the Albanians. Filip backed Gordana up in the argument, and that proved to be the last straw for him. Both were ejected from the house [Večernji list / 09.12.04 / Iz kuće izbačeni - Makedonci!].

Two new Macedonian contestants have been brought in to replace Filip and Gordana: Jana Velkovska and Dragi Hristos.

Slovenia is represented by Mateja Plahuta and Miro Tosodovski. The other contestants are Edin and Mirela from Bosnia, Edis and Josipa from Croatia and Miodrag and Dijana from Serbia and Montenegro. They are joined by the Macedonian Albanian Admir, and the Kosovo Rom Saneli.
Two contestants are voted out of the house every twenty days by phone calls and SMS messages from viewers at home. The last ones left win EUR 10,000. Viewers in Slovenia can participate in the telephone voting by calling 090 93 60 63 or by sending an SMS with the name of the candidate to be voted off to 2929.

To sem jaz can be seen on Prva TV in 10 to 15 minute increments five times daily from Monday to Friday, with hour-long daily wrap-ups each evening as well as on Saturdays. The To sem jaz website can be found at http://www.toasumjas.com.mk/.

To sem jaz update: Sex, live

To sem jaz became amateur porn on 7 December, when Slovene Miro and Serb Dijana became the first to have sex on the show.

As Večernji list describes the situation, "Miro and Dijana left the other housemates, went to his bed and began to make love. This was shown on television, but Dijana and Miro tried to protect themselves from the public’s eyes and covered themselves with the bedspread so that the cameras could not see everything. But the bedspread did not cover everything" [Večernji list / 08.12.04 / Pao prvi seks: Slovenac Miro i Srpkinja Dijana!].

Previously, the most scandalous moments were when Croat Edis took a shower in the nude on live TV, and when Macedonian Filip asked the producers for condoms so he could masturbate in bed and "not make too much of a mess."

To sem jaz can be seen on Prva TV in 10 to 15 minute increments five times daily from Monday to Friday, with hour-long daily wrap-ups each evening as well as on Saturdays. The To sem jaz website can be found at http://www.toasumjas.com.mk/.

To sem jaz update: Slovenes not interested, Bosnians threaten to sue

To sem jaz (That’s Me) has yet to capture the Slovene public’s attention, and there has been very little press coverage. One of the few articles is in this week’s Žurnal, called Mednarodna realnost. The show also figured into two other of Žurnal’s recent articles [Žurnal / 26.11.04 / Jugonostalgija še vedno med Slovenci and Mladina / 29.11.04 / Zadnja TV].

However, the daily newspaper Večernji list in Croatia is reporting on the show (called To sam ja in Croatian, as well as in Bosnian and Serbian) almost daily. It has also caught the Bosnian public’s attention, but not in a good way: On 27 November, a Bosnian NGO called the Bosniac League issued a press release denouncing the program as a "live feed of erotic, nearly pornographic pictures from a house in Skopje."

They also announced they have received a request to file a lawsuit against OBN, the station carrying the program in Bosnia, from the mother of the female participant from Bosnia, Mirela Efendić. The mother, according to the Bosnian League, believes her daughter has been "forced to bathe together with men in one bathtub, to strip naked in the communal bed room, not knowing that it would be broadcast as an attack on her person and on her moral integrity." The Bosnian League is demanding a public apology from OBN in order to stave off a lawsuit [Index.hr / 30.11.04 / Balkanski reality show zbog ‘pornografije’ na udaru roditelja, Večernji list / 30.11.04 / "To sam ja" osuđen zbog golotinje].

OBN has had experience with reality TV in the past, having aired the first Balkan reality TV show in June 2001. The show, 60 Hours, featured two Bosnian Serbs, a Bosnian Muslim, a Croatian from Zagreb and Jana Prepeluh of Ljubljana. The five spent 60 hours in a luxury apartment in Sarajevo, and the whole thing was not only televised, but aired over BH Radio 1. The show did not include the concept of voting contestants out of the house, since it was decided that it could cause unwanted nationalist tensions. The show itself turned out to be rather boring, and viewers were particularly disappointed that there was no nudity or sex. Lav, the Croat, was the only one to venture into the shower during the show, but he wore a bathing suit [Mladina / 02.07.01 / Lav, bodi samo moj and Dani / 22.07.01 / Sretna nova 1984].

The only similar reality TV show currently on the air is Croatia’s version of Big Brother, which is a huge hit there. Organizers of that show have taken notice of To sem jaz, and told Večernji list that the next season of Big Brother will include some regional cooperation, though not on the same level as To sem jaz. [Večernji list / 25.11.04 / Big Brother također s YU kandidatima]

To sem jaz can be seen on Prva TV in 10 to 15 minute increments five times daily from Monday to Friday, with hour-long daily wrap-ups each evening as well as on Saturdays. Viewers in Slovenia can participate in the telephone voting by calling 090 93 60 63 or by sending an SMS with the name of the candidate to be voted off to 2929.

The To sem jaz website, still in development, can be found at http://www.toasumjas.com.mk/, and a press release in English can be found at: http://ca.prweb.com/releases/2004/12/prweb185588.htm.