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Yugoslavia Unrest Fills Cable TV

October 5, 2000

NEW YORK (AP) _ The dramatic events in Yugoslavia filled cable television networks with pictures of chaotic Belgrade streets, demonstrators throwing things at retreating police and blazes at Parliament.

One of the busiest television correspondents reporting on Thursday’s unrest never thought the pictures would make it out.

``I was surprised to see how little the police were intervening and surprised to see that we were still on the air,″ said CNN’s Belgrade bureau chief, Alessio Vinci.

CNN, followed by Fox News Channel and MSNBC, repeatedly aired pictures of the milling crowds from Belgrade on Thursday. The cable network BBC America pre-empted its afternoon programming to air continuous BBC News coverage of the uprising.

CNN depends on state-run Yugoslavian television for transmission of reports and has been cut off by angry authorities in the past, Vinci said.

He believed embattled leader Slobodan Milosevic and his cronies ``must feel either really scared or really confident, one of the two,″ he said.

Fox News Channel and MSNBC were relying on pictures from news agencies like Reuters and Associated Press Television News and those beamed on Serbian TV, spokesmen for those networks said. NBC reporter Jim Maceda was on the scene, but without the technology to deliver live reports, and Fox News was trying to get a reporter in.

Vinci said he sensed early that something would happen on Thursday because police who would normally aggressively turn back demonstrators were instead giving in.

Even though demonstrators threw things at police, and they responded by lobbing tear gas canisters into the crowd, Vini said he was surprised at the lack of anger toward police.

``This was not a confrontation between the people and the police,″ he said. ``This was a confrontation between the people and the symbols of power.″

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