anem on Sat, 23 Jan 1999 21:26:35 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> Owner of City Radio in Nis Found Guilty

During the last six months, the authorities in the Republic of Former
Yugoslavia have been increasing the pressure on independent electronic
media. The introduction of a new Serbian Law on Public Information in
autumn 1998 was one step to intimidate independent media. Another way of
holding a grip on independent radio and television stations has been the
systematic delay in responding to applications for frequencies. This has
led to a situation in which the operation of many stations has become de
facto illegal. Nikola Djuric, the owner of City Radio in Nis, is one of
the first victims, as the Association of Independent Electronic Media in
FRY reports:

(source: ANEM-network, 18 January 1999)

In a hearing at the Nis Municipal Court on 18 January, Nikola Djuric, the 
owner of City Radio in Nis, was pronounced guilty of illegal possession
and operation of a radio station under Article 219 (1) of the Serbian
Criminal Law. He was sentenced to 12 months' probation with a 2-month 
suspended imprisonment.

ANEM protests sternly at this verdict as the judge has disregarded the
defence's argument that the state authorities had not honoured their
obligation to allocate frequencies and to announce their decision with
regard to the station's application in the frequency allocation tender.
The court also disregarded the fact that the Yugoslav Telecommunications
Ministry's banning order against City Radio is contested at the Yugoslav
Federal Court.

City Radio and ANEM will appeal the court ruling. ANEM warns that this
case has introduced a dangerous precedent which enables further
intimidation of owners of independent stations. Most of these stations
have been waiting for months now for the Yugoslav Telecommunications
Ministry to decide on their applications in the February 1998 frequency
allocation tender. Over 200 owners of broadcast media outlets may face
prison sentences in a similar manner.

After a series of enormous fines that have wrought havoc on a number
of media outlets and their owners, the authorities have moved on to
passing prison sentences as the most radical mode of intimidation and

In addition to the demand for the abolishment of the new Serbian Law
on Public Information, ANEM calls on all relevant groups at home and
abroad to insist that radio and television stations which have tendered
for frequencies should be legalised and that criminal prosecution of their
owners should stop.
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