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ANEM condemns administrative harassment of radio station in Zajecar

(ANEM/IFEX) - Belgrade, 30 March 2012 - The Association of Independent Electronic Media (ANEM) strongly condemns the politically motivated removal of editorial teams from their business premises and shutting down of broadcasting signals of media outlets within cable distribution systems despite their having valid broadcasting licenses. ANEM also considers that exploitation of the media by their owners, editors or members of their managing structures, who are also participants in the election campaign, is unacceptable.

ANEM points to the case of TV and Radio Timocka from Zajecar, which possesses a valid regional broadcasting TV and radio licenses and whose editorial teams announced that they had received an order to vacate their business premises. They claim that they have been using the premises since 1972 in their capacity as legal successors of Radio Zajecar and Radio-Television Zajecar. The editorial teams also received a subpoena related to legal proceedings initiated against them because of an alleged illegally installed transmitter – which has been located at its current position for 17 years. A week later, on March 27, the signal of TV Timocka was removed from the package offered by cable provider Jotel d.o.o. despite existing legal contracts.

TV and Radio Timocka say that the activists from the political party United Regions of Serbia (URS) in Zajecar and its surroundings have been petitioning against the station. The activists also announced their intention to submit a complaint to the Republic Broadcasting Agency because of alleged biased reporting during election campaign. The mayor of Zajecar, Bosko Nicic, is a URS candidate in the elections, while Sasa Mirkovic, who has, according to media reports, recently resigned from the position of the president of the Managing Board of TV and Radio Timocka, is the leader of the electoral list "Victory for Better Life" in elections for the Municipal Assembly of the City of Zajecar and is one of the founders of ANEM.

ANEM points out that possible exploitation of TV and Radio Timocka for the purpose of Mirkovic's election campaign and his electoral list must be solved institutionally and in accordance with the procedure set in the Law on Broadcasting, not by shutting down of the station's signal by cable providers or by sudden eviction from the business premises that the station and its legal predecessors have been using for 40 years.

ANEM demands that the Republic Broadcasting Agency immediately take all available measures to protect the public in Zajecar and its surroundings, which has the right to receive information of regional importance, as well as the employees in TV and Radio Timocka from Zajecar, from possible mistreatment for the purpose of anyone's election campaign, arbitrary exclusion from cable packages, and eviction from their business premises.

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