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Ukraine29 April 2005

Court rules that NTN TV’s licence is valid

The national supreme economic court ruled on 28 April that the broadcasting licence of the TV station NTN was valid, rejecting the prosecutor-general’s challenge to an appeal court decision allowing the station to expand its network in the country. The decision had been contested in late March by the national broadcasting council, which held that a licence could not be attributed by simple legal decision but only by a fair and open bidding process.

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TV station claims it is the victim of conspiracy

2th April 2005

Reporters Without Borders cautioned Ukraine’s new authorities against any attempt to seek revenge against news media with ties to the old regime today after journalists employed by the TV station NTN yesterday protested against the refusal of the Council on Television and Radio to let the station extend its broadcast network.

NTN is controlled by Eduard Prutnik, a former advisor to Viktor Yanukovych, who was President Viktor Yushchenko’s main opponent in last year’s presidential election. The economic supreme court is to rule within a week on the proposed extension licence, which is highly controversial.

"Reporters Without Borders is paying close attention to developments in the news media in Ukraine since President Yushchenko took office," the press freedom organization said. "We remind the authorities of the undertakings they gave as regards press freedom. As soon as he was elected, the president said respect for press independence would be a priority for his administration. Journalists must not be held hostage to any possible attempt to seek political revenge."

Around 100 NTN journalists protested yesterday outside the president’s office against the pressure which they claim the new authorities are putting on their TV station.

NTN, which has been operating since the start of November, has challenged the council’s refusal to approve its plans to extend its broadcast network to the entire country, which had previously received authorization from two courts. The office of the prosecutor general in Kiev has appealed, and a decision is due on 8 April.

Council member Vitaly Chevchenko said NTN obtained its licence illegally when it was created. The licence allows NTN only to broadcast in Kiev and the surrounding region, but it is already broadcasting to 26 cities and has asked the council to let it broadcast to 76 cìties. "If the TV station wants to extend its broadcast network, it must be done as part of an official bidding procedure," Chevchenko said.

NTN editor in chief Natalia Katerynchuk responded: "We paid for our licence when the station was created and we have the receipt dated 15 November 2004. This is nothing less than a conspiracy against our station which has a completely independent editorial line."




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