'Okruzenje' / 'Vicinities'-recipient of the Special Jury Prize at the ‘European Citizenship Awards’, 2016
The first and only regional television talk show
Broadcast in all of the countries of the Western Balkans simultaneously
Bringing together prime ministers in a historic ‘first’
Record viewership figures
Unprecedented media response: over 230 articles devoted to one single episode of the talk show in late 2016
Honored with the award for ‘Media Initiative of the Year’ by the Jury of the European Citizenship Awards, 2016
’Okruzenje’, or ’Vicinities’ in English, is a pioneering current affairs talk show that brings together influential guests from across the Balkans to talk about topics sometimes painful, divisive, or even satirical -- that are at the heart of daily life. This is not your average talk show guests come from all walks of life and are joined by a desire to discuss and listen, and by language, as most of the languages of the region are mutually understood. The resulting show is broadcast weekly in seven different countries; unthinkable just years ago. Its achievements have been wide-ranging, groundbreaking and historic; bringing together prime ministers of countries in the same studio for the first time, reaching record numbers of viewers and contributing to civil society in the region through open, democratic debate and responsible media production.
In 2012, the CDRSEE together with the European Fund for the Balkans took the bold step of airing the first pilot season in five countries. Never before had such diverse guests come together with the objective of really listening to one another and finding resolutions to issues that reach deeply into the soul of the region and have the power to enable true reconciliation. Okruzenje, known in the international community as’ Vicinities’, is a peace-building experience on the medium that reaches more homes than any other.
The second season, expanded and even more powerful, tackled topics such as identity, youth unemployment and EU influence. Twelve editions were broadcast on eight channels. And remarkably, the show caught the attention of the European Parliament. In December 2013, the Members of the European Parliament sponsored a special event to highlight the impact of the show in the region, and called for something similar in Europe.
Okruzenje gained even better time slots in the third season, with shows broadcast during or close to prime time. With the added partnership of the Regional Cooperation Council, the 12 regular-season shows were broadcast consecutively, and the team added two additional special reports. In October 2014, to kick off the season, more than 100 diplomats, journalists, editor and executives gathered to see a presentation on Okruzenje, or Vicinities, and to discuss Cross-border Regional Cooperation of the media. The news show became the news -- some 50 newspapers in the region wrote about the event.
For Season IV, the number of channels broadcasting Okruzenje has increased to 10; Albanian public broadcaster RTSH is joining the Okruzenje team, as is the Albanian-language channel of TV Kosovo, RTK1, both major steps for expansion and reconciliation. For the fourth season, the number of regular-season shows will increase to 14, including two shows of highlights. In addition, the Okruzenje team will organise four roundtable discussions in cities around the region, which will be recorded and produced into additional shows. Also important, TV partner stations and other local stations -- at least 40 already -- are re-broadcasting shows from seasons II and III during the off-season, to improve the continuity and the visibility of the show. For Season IV, local stations in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Kosovo will do the same.
Perhaps most exciting, in August 2015 the Okruzenje team recorded a TV programme with Edi Rama, Prime Minister of Albania, and Aleksandar Vucic, Prime Minister of Serbia, on prospects for the region's youth, on regional cooperation and the Balkans' place in Europe. The show aired on 31 August 2015 in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Kosovo and has already raised an incredible visibility, with about 2 millon viewers in Serbia and a share of 85% in Albania, the most-watched show ever. The show can be viewed on You Tube at the following URL: https://youtu.be/1vRkPoD1FyQ.
The success of Okruzenje paved the way for the production of a European-wide version of the show, called ’Vicinities Europe’. In the autumn of 2015, two Vicinities Europe pilots were produced- the first addressed the refugee and migrant crisis and the second looked at the concept of Europe- and broadcast on seven national channels in Europe.
A 5th successful season in 2016, built on the extraordinary successes of the previous ones by not only broadcasting a full cycle of shows on even more stations (now 10 in total) but also by bringing together the former Prime Minister of Montenegro, Milo Djukanovic and the former President of the SFRY and Croatia, Stjepan Mesic.
Year after year, Okruzenje has been able to innovate and constantly surprise its audiences with results that had previously not been believed possible. As a consequence of its tireless efforts and ever-growing popularity, in September 2016, Okruzenje received the jury award in the ‘Media Initiative of the Year’ category at the European Citizenship Awards’ ceremony in London’s City Hall. The award was bestowed upon Okruzenje for its commitment and involvement in promoting active citizenship and a vision of Europe based on solidarity and inclusiveness. The European Citizenship Awards are a joint initiative of two organisations (The European Civic Forum and Volunteurope) –both of which are pan-European networks that comprise over 100 member organisations.
The media response to Okruzenje has once again been unprecedented with over 230 press articles (online and printed) or TV news segments throughout the region during the period of the project. Without exception, the press coverage was positive and a special focus was devoted to the special episode featuring the two former premiers.
With a 6th season funded and underway, Okruzenje goes from strength to strength with fresh ideas and innovative, contemporary and relevant topics to discuss in a democratic, respectful and constructive manner.
"Regional cooperation is not something based solely on the efforts of governments and international institutions, but it is vital that people talk to each other, and that there are exchanges between civil societies, which is of crucial importance," H.E. Axel Dittmann, German Ambassador to Serbia, speaking at a promotional event to celebrate 5 successful seasons of Okruzenje.
Okruzenje (Vicinities), First Regional News Talk Show 3rd SeasonEditor Zvezdana Kovac
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Okruzenje (Vicinities), First Regional News Talk Show 2nd SeasonEditor Zvezdana KovaÄ
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Okruzenje (Vicinities), First Regional News Talk ShowEdited by Zvezdana Kovac
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European Fund for the Balkans (www.balkanfund.org)
Current Media Partners:
|Radio Television Bosnia and Herzegovina (www.bhrt.ba)|
|Radio Television Bijeljina (www.rtvbn.com)|
|Croatian Radiotelevision (www.hrt.hr)|
|Radio Television Kosovo (www.rtklive.com)|
|ALSAT--M TV from the FYR of Macedonia (alsat-m.tv)|
|Vijesti television from Montenegro (www.vijesti.me/tv)|
|Radio Television Slovenia (www.rtvslo.si)|
|Radio Television Serbia (www.rts.rs)|
|Radio Television Albania (www.rtsh.al)|
Additional media partners:
Dani, weekly news magazine from Bosnia and Herzegovina (www.rtvslo.si)
Slobodna Dalmacija, dailynews magazine from Croatia (www.slobodnadalmacija.hr)
Monitor, weekly news magazine from Montenegro (www.monitor.co.me)
Vreme, weekly news magazines from Serbia (www.vreme.rs)