Between early 1994 and the end of the wars in Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, a team of journalists working for the United Nations peacekeeping mission in former Yugoslavia (UNPROFOR) was in charge of a unique televisual experiment–a documentary film unit known as UNTV, which would produce more than 300 films about reconstruction, displacement and peace, to be broadcast on regular slots agreed with local and national broadcasters throughout the region. Departing from UN peacekeeping’s conventional public information output, these films aimed to challenge the ethnonationalist biases that post-Yugoslav state broadcasters employed to varying degrees, and to become a much-needed source of reliable information about conditions on other sides of the front lines. Though UNTV’s existence is hardly registered in the literature on television and other media during the Yugoslav wars, archival evidence from UNTV’s documents and films casts light on how and why the project began, with interpretations of the dynamics of the conflict which were often closer to those of independent anti-war journalists in the region than UNPROFOR command. The tensions that resulted when this commitment clashed with the politicised ideologies of some post-Yugoslav state broadcasters nevertheless show the limits of this attempt to intervene in former Yugoslavia’s so-called ‘media war’.
Baker, C. (in press). Peace on the Small Screen: UNPROFOR’s Television Unit in 1994–5 and the ‘Media War’ in Former Yugoslavia. Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television, 42(2), 344-371. https://doi.org/10.1080/01439685.2021.1948205