DP9042 | Cross-border media and nationalism: Evidence from Serbian radio in Croatia

Publication Date

01/07/2012

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Abstract

Which factors stand in the way of cooperation between countries formerly at war? We examine the role of nationalistic content of a media outlet reaching citizens of a neighboring country. We consider radio signals travelling across borders in the region that witnessed one of Europe?s deadliest conflicts since WWII: the Serbo-Croatian conflict in the Yugoslavian wars. Using survey and election data, we show that, after a decade since the end of the war, cross-border nationalistic Serbian radio triggers animosity towards Serbs in Croatia, potentially endangering peace. In particular, we find that a large fraction of Croats listen to Serbian radio (intended for Serbian listeners across the border) whenever signal is available. The residents of Croatian villages with good-quality signal of Serbian public radio are more likely to vote for extreme nationalist parties. In addition, ethnically offensive graffiti are more common in villages with Serbian radio reception. A laboratory experiment confirms that Serbian radio exposure causes an increase in anti-Serbian sentiment among Croats.