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Opposition TV channel disappears from the airwaves

(IMI/IFEX) – The independent television company Krug has disappeared from the airwaves in Odessa. Company employees are convinced that the authorities in Odessa are trying to prevent the only opposition channel from broadcasting.

Krug employees sent an appeal to a number of people: the head of the Odessa Regional State Administration, Eduard Matviychuk; the Ukrainian President, Viktor Yanukovych; the Prosecutor General of Ukraine, Viktor Pshonka; Chairman of the Antimonopoly Committee of Ukraine, Vasyl Tsushko, as well as a number of embassies of the European Union states, international human rights organizations, trade unions and unions of journalists.

The text of the appeal says that on 18 October, the signal of the only opposition TV and radio company, Krug, disappeared from cable networks of "Chorne More" and "Breeze" operators. These operators retransmit broadcast signals to residents of Odessa who live in the Kyiv and Suvorov districts of the city. The official reason: the distribution company CTV-Odessa had no on-air signal.

CTV-Odessa engineers told Krug's editorial staff that the modulator of the distributive TRC Krug channel "burned out". Meanwhile, the signals of all other channels were being transmitted smoothly. CTV-Odessa employees refused to say how long it would take to fix the problem, citing the fact that the owner, Dmitry Zubov, would solve this problem. Meanwhile, Mr. Zubov has not given an indication of the repairs necessary nor allocated funds for them.

According to the channel management, the Odessa authorities are trying to close the only opposition channel in the city. Besides, the statement says that this is not the first time the mayor of Odessa has tried to do this.

TRC Krug employees are withstanding another attempt by the authorities to close the channel because they do not like it, with deep indignation. Earlier, Odessa Mayor Kostusev tried to evict the team of TRC Krug from their premises. Following this, Kostusev tried to ruin the company with two lawsuits of 100,000 Ukrainian Hryvna (approx. US$12,500) each; the cases are still under consideration. However, before reaching the desired conclusion, the municipality forced TRC Krug off the air.

The mayor's office reported that they had no connection to the disappearance of TRC Circle from the airwaves, but confirmed the information about the lawsuits.

In September 2011, three Kharkiv TV channels - ATN, Fora and A/ TBVK - stopped broadcasting after they were pressured by the local authorities.

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