A new free-to-air news and current affairs channel, serving viewers in Bosnia-Hercegovina, Croatia, Serbia, Slovenia, Macedonia, Kosovo and Montenegro, is to be launched on Friday (II November) by Al Jazeera.
Broadcasting via Eutelsat W3C satellite, Al Jazeera Balkans is based in Sarajevo, with further studios in Zagreb, Belgrade and Skopje. The channel was developed after the Qatar-based network bought the Bosnian NTV 99 television station in 2010.
Al Jazeera has reportedly invested US$20 million in the new venture, which will have correspondents in Podogorica, Priðtina, Mostar and Banja Luka, reporting and broadcasting in their local languages. In addition, the channel will have reporters in Washington, London, Berlin, Vienna, Moscow, Istanbul and Jerusalem – as well as drawing on the resources of 70 Al Jazeera bureaux worldwide.
"We are very pleased to partner with a renowned company such as Eutelsat that offers the most reliable service and provides wide coverage of the entire region," said Tarik Dodic, managing director, Al Jazeera Balkans. "Eutelsat's 16° East neighbourhood and its new W3C satellite are the natural choice for us to optimise reach into TV homes in the Balkans and we are delighted to have their support for our new venture."
Andrew Wallace, chief commercial officer, Eutelsat, added: "We welcome Al Jazeera Balkans on board W3C just two days after our newest satellite went live. The selection of 16° East by a new flagship channel in the Balkan region underscores the strength of this longstanding neighbourhood in Central Europe. We look forward to forging further longstanding partnerships with channels in one of Europe's most dynamic regions for satellite TV."
Al Jazeera Balkans will officially launch at 6pm local time on Friday 11 November. It will be mark the first region-wide TV news service since the 1990s when the former Yugoslavia broke up into the six separate states of Bosnia, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Slovenia, plus the disputed territory of Kosovo.