The threat may signal the frustration of NATO commanders over their campaign's failure to turn the Serb population against President Milosevic. But even if they did knock out his TV stations, "it's already too late," says TIME Pentagon correspondent Mark Thompson. "Serb TV has been effectively used to whip up nationalist sentiment, and bombing it now won't change anything. If they were going to take out the TV, they should've done it right at the beginning, along with the air defenses." Or at least as retaliation when Belgrade had the audacity to expel Christiane Amanpour.
NATO gave a whole new meaning to the term "air campaign" Thursday by threatening to bomb its way into Serbia's tightly controlled TV market. Unless Belgrade agreed to transmit six hours a day of uncensored "Western news programs" each day, NATO would bomb Serb TV transmitters, alliance spokesman Commodore David Wilby announced. With NATO's civilian leadership clearly embarrassed by the threat, spokesman Jamie Shea quickly withdrew it, saying that only those TV transmitters used to relay military communications would be targeted.