Geert Lovink on Wed, 16 Jun 1999 10:24:10 +0100

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Syndicate: ANEM press release

ANEM press release

June 15th, 1999


BELGRADE, June 14, 1999 -- ANEM, the Association of Independent 
Electronic Media in Yugoslavia today protests most sternly at the 
laying of misdemeanour charges against Zoran Malesevic, the owner of 
Radio Senta and VK Radio in Kikinda, the ban on Television Mladenovac 
and the continuing confiscations of periodicals being distributed 
across the Yugoslav borders. ANEM also salutes the resumption of work 
by Television Soko, the independent broadcaster in Sokobanja.

Zoran Malesevic will appear today in a hearing in the Kikinda 
Municipal Misdemeanour Court on charges filed against him by the 
Yugoslav Telecommunications Ministry. The ministry claims Mr Malesevic 
has been operating radio stations without a licence. On the night of 
April 2 the ministry banned Radio VK, VK II Channel and Radio Senta 
with the justification that the stations had been "operating against 
the interests of the defence of the country". Now the ministry claims 
that Malesevic did not have licences for his radio stations. This is 
despite the fact that the ministry had received complete documentation 
in the public frequency competition of February 1998, which obliged 
the ministry to issue the licence as it had collected fees for the use 
of the frequencies from Mr Malesevic's stations. The ministry has 
repeatedly undertaken similar actions over more than half a year, 
initiating misdemeanour procedures against the owners of all banned 
stations. ANEM demands that the misdemeanour agencies dismiss the 
charges against Mr Malesevic, as has happened with the owners of all 
ANEM affiliates which have been subject to similar charges. ANEM also 
warns that such repression is increasingly targeting owners and 
editors rather than media companies.

On the night of June 12, the Yugoslav Telecommunications Ministry 
banned Television Mladenovac, which was operating as an outlet of 
Studio B Television. At the same time, Studio B Television was ordered 
to continue rebroadcasting news programs from state Radio Television 
Serbia with the justification that the state of war in Yugoslavia was 
still current. Although it formally rejected the ministry's order, 
Studio B has resumed rebroadcasts of the RTS prime time news show, 
saying that it was doing so out of professional solidarity as the 
general manager of state television had requested continuation of the 
rebroadcasts for "another couple of days". Studio B demanded that 
Television Mladenovac be permitted to resume operations immediately.

ANEM demands that Television Mladenovac be allowed to continue its 
work without hindrance, and that the Yugoslav authorities cease 
issuing orders to the media. ANEM emphasises that no regulation, 
including those passed in wartime, gives those authorities the right 
to take this action.

Since June 9, the Serbian police on Serbian borders have confiscated 
all copies of Nezavisne Novine, a newspaper published in Republika 
Srpska. The police have not provided any explanation or legal 
justification for doing so. Nezavisne Novine has covered the 
resolution of the Kosovo crisis in a manner which has allowed all 
political leaders to present their views on the responsibility of the 
Serbian regime for the recent developments and war in Serbia. ANEM 
demands that the practice of confiscating newspapers, which for the 
past six months has affected not only Nezavisne Novine but also most 
of the Montenegrin independent press, stop immediately, as repression 
and ceaseless propaganda cannot remove the political, or other, 
responsibility of the authorities.

On June 11, independent Television Soko in Sokobanja resumed its 
broadcasts. Television Soko was banned on March 27 by the Yugoslav 
Telecommunications Ministry. Television Soko's editor-in-chief, 
Nebojsa Ristic, was sentenced on April 13 to one year's imprisonment 
for having displayed a Radio B92 poster protesting against repression 
and stifling of the media in Serbia. Mr Ristic is currently serving 
his prison sentence, but the staff of Television Soko have decided to 
resume their broadcasts despite the threats and warnings from the 
authorities not to do so. ANEM supports this decision by Television 
Soko's staff and hopes that other outlets which have been banned on 
the illegal decisions of the authorities will do likewise. ANEM also 
warns the authorities that the continuation of repression against the 
independent media, especially in Sokobanja, could lead to civil 
outrage which would be difficult to control and demands that 
Television Soko be permitted to operate without hindrance.

ANEM emphasises that the repression of the media by the authorities 
has increased since the termination of Nato actions against 
Yugoslavia. ANEM asserts that the continuation of this repression 
could provoke a severe reaction from the public, which is gradually 
recovering from the traumas of war and the withdrawal of the Yugoslav 
armed forces from Kosovo. ANEM emphasises that the freedom of the 
media and cessation of the systematic dissemination of lies and 
propaganda through the media under state control is the first and one 
of the most important steps towards democratisation of the political 
and social life of Serbia.

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