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TVi channel receives official warning, could lose licence

(IMI/IFEX) - October 5, 2011 - On September 28, 2011, the National Television and Radio Broadcasting Council of Ukraine issued an official warning to TVi Channel. If the station, the only independent channel in Ukraine, should receive a second warning it may lose its license.

According to Mykola Kniazhytsky, TVi General Manager: "We have not yet received the text outlining the decision. There are no reasons for it. They conducted an inspection in November 2010, and according to the Commercial Code, sanctions based on the results of an inspection are only applicable for 6 months. Therefore, regardless of the reason, the sanction is illegal."

According to Oksana Golovatenko, a member of the National TV and Radio Broadcasting Council, it was discovered that TVi did not broadcast in several Crimean cities in the past year, whereas in Ivano Frankivsk region the company carried out some tests but then stopped broadcasting. In addition, the National Council found that the channel had not complied with certain licensing requirements.

TVi's lawyer Yuri Kraynyak argued that the company's current license does not include additions that specify a list of broadcasting channels. He recalled that the National Council had annulled these additions, which guaranteed the right of TVi and 5th channels to broadcast in frequency, a right awarded during a competition on January 27, 2010.

TVi channel objected to the conclusions of the National Council suggesting that it had not complied with the approved programme concept.

The National Council took into account a statement by Kniazhytsky, who considers the warning as manipulation and an attempt to shut down the channel.

IMI is concerned over the state regulator's apparent targeting of the only TV channel in Ukraine which maintains its independence and broadcasts the point of view of both the authorities and the opposition. This is a dangerous tendency, IMI warns. Compared to other TV channels which are often less balanced in their editorial approach, TVi's broadcasts are an important key to the preservation of pluralism in the country.

IMI recalls that the National Council had previously suspended TVi's additional license, without giving it an opportunity to expand its broadcasting in Ukraine. Currently, the channel is broadcast on cable networks, mainly in large cities.

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