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Poland25 July 2002

Two radio stations lose broadcasting licences

Reporters Without Borders protested today against the non-renewal on 17 July of the licences of two popular local radio stations by the Polish state broadcasting authority KRRiT, which it said was acting arbitrarily.

"We are astonished that this decision has been made without warning, without any reason given and without any chance of an appeal," said Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Robert Ménard in a letter to KRRiT president Juliusz Braun.

"This means the stations - Radio Blue in Kracow and Twoje Radio in the southwestern town of Walbrzych — will have to shut down. If the decision is confirmed, it will show that the KRRiT has excessive and arbitrary powers and does not conform to European Union standards of press freedom.

"We ask you to reverse this measure and to see that the KRRiT does not again exceed the powers normally given to a broadcasting regulatory authority in a democratic country," Ménard said.

Radio Blue, on the air for seven years, is the most popular station among Krakow’s 710,000 inhabitants and in the region. KRRiT said it was assigning its frequency to another station, ESKA, which has not yet extended its broadcasts to Krakow.

Twoje Radio ("Your Radio") is very popular among the 140,000 inhabitants of the mining town of Walbrzych. Listeners have demonstrated and organised petitions in protest against the KRRiT decision.

The KRRiT was set up in 1992 and is run by nine "wise men" - four chosen by the chamber of deputies, two by the senate and three by the country’s president - who assign broadcasting licences for a maximum of seven years, after which an application for renewal must be made, which Radio Blue said it did within the deadline. The KRRiT’s decisions are final.

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Jusuf Ruzimuradov

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