President Slobodan Milosevic first used the threat of war, then an actual war, and finally international hostility toward his regime to justify the use of government censorship and crippling fines to decimate Serbia's various independent media.
The press crackdown was particularly brutal in Kosovo, where a 1998 military offensive by the separatist Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) triggered massive Serbian government repression of ethnic Albanians. At the beginning of 1999, Albanian-language media suffered through a series of hostile tax and fire inspections. In March, as NATO air strikes grew imminent, authorities in Belgrade imposed enormous fines on several media outlets under the Serbian Information Law. The law, passed in October 1998, allows the Serb government to fine and ban media outlets deemed to foment "fear, panic, and defeatism."