mediawatch-owner on Thu, 18 May 2000 13:14:41 +0200 (CEST)

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ANEM press release


BELGRADE, May 17, 2000 -- The Association of Independent Electronic Media
protests in the strongest terms at the police raid and seizure of the
largest free broadcaster in Serbia, Belgrade's Studio B. ANEM urges the
public to do all in its power to stop this illegal act.

The raid on Studio B's premises occurred at 2.00 a.m. A large number of
police completely blocked the Beogradjanka building in central Belgrade
where the broadcaster is located. A recorded message was broadcast on Studio
B informing the public that the Serbian Government had resolved to take over
the public broadcaster Studio B which was controlled by the Belgrade
Municipality. The resolution quoted a demand from the Serbian Information
Ministry to take over Studio B because frequent calls for the violent
overthrow of the constitutional order had been made on the station's

The Serbian Government said that the legal grounds for the resolution was
that Studio B was state-owned and that the state had decided to take direct
control of "its own property" and remove all proprietary rights from the
hands of the Belgrade Municipality.

The Serbian Government also resolved to dismiss the management of Studio B
and appoint Ljuboslav Aleksic editor-in-chief of the station. The resolution
instructs Studio B to continue broadcasting as a company wholly owned and
operated by the Serbian Government. The Serbian Government Decree was signed
by Deputy Serbian Prime Ministers Milovan Bojic and Vojislav Seselj.

ANEM described this unprecedented move as lacking even any pretence at legal
justification. The Serbian Government's resolution is unconstitutional and
illegal and its only goal is to prevent the operation of the largest and
most influential broadcaster in Serbia which is not under control of the

In taking over Studio B the Serbian Government has also prevented the
operation of Radio B2-92 which, after three bans and a regime takeover, had
leased a radio frequency from Studio B and premises in the same building.

The building also houses student broadcaster Radio Index and the influential
non-government daily Blic. This raid has thus left Belgrade in complete
media darkness, with almost no radio or television station not under
government control.

ANEM has made an urgent appeal to the public to do everything possible to
help prevent a complete media blackout and open dictatorship in Serbia. We
call on all democratic forces in Serbia to unconditionally unite their
forces in the defence of the basic freedom of speech and information.

Press contact:
tel.: +361 475 0704 / 361 353 4598

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