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Closure of TV Mitrovica "unduly undermines freedom of speech," says SEEMO

(IPI/IFEX) - The following is a press release by the South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), an IPI affiliate:

Vienna, 05 February 2008

The Vienna-based South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), a network of editors, media executives and leading journalists from South East Europe and an affiliate of the International Press Institute (IPI), is calling for reconsideration of the closing of TV Mitrovica in Kosovo.

According to information before SEEMO, the Independent Media Commission in Kosovo (IMC) terminated the licence of TV Mitrovica on 1 May 2007, and, by order of the Office of the Chief Executive of the IMC, confiscated the station's broadcasting equipment on 28 December 2007.

Nexhmedin Spahiu, owner of TV Mitrovica, indicated that the closure was related to irregularities in the range of its broadcasting signal, which is limited by regulation. According to Spahiu, past attempts to rectify the problem proved technologically unfeasible. Spahiu added that TV Mitrovica is not the only station that has been unable to fully comply with the relevant regulations.

While SEEMO encourages TV Mitrovica to comply with the IMC regulations on frequency, it urges regulators to adjust those regulations to the realities of the region. Oliver Vujovic, SEEMO Secretary General, calls on IMC and TV Mitrovica to work together towards a consensus involving less drastic measures than the confiscation of broadcasting equipment and a station shut-down. The international community frowns on such excessive sanctions, which unduly undermine freedom of speech.

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