Media Body shuts down Bosnian Croat TV

SARAJEVO, Feb 18, 2000 -- (Reuters) An independent media body shut down a hardline Bosnian Croat television station in the southern town of Mostar on Thursday after it had refused to cease broadcasting following a commission ruling last November.

Zinaida Babovic, spokeswoman for the Independent Media Commission (IMC), said that by closing down Erotel television conditions had been put in place for the long-delayed creation of Federation Television.

"Erotel has now forfeited its right to broadcast in Bosnia and Herzegovina and also forfeited its right to apply for a broadcast license," Dieter Loraine, the commission's head of public affairs, told a news conference.

The international community has long urged that the former state television, now Moslem-dominated, be restructured and a new federation television be created instead, meeting the interests of both Moslems and Croats.

Erotel, which had failed to accept a new license granted by the IMC last year, had continued to occupy illegally some 147 transmitters across the federation.

Simon Haselock, the international community's deputy High Representative for media, said the planned new television station was expected to broadcast in full in two months time.

"Now we have the technical mechanism and the frequency space," Haselock explained.

The NATO-led peacekeeping Stabilization Force (SFOR) provided security during the operation carried out by IMC engineers at Mikuljica, a few km (miles) north of Mostar. No incidents were reported.

Post-war Bosnia consists of two autonomous territories, the Moslem-Croat federation and the Serb republic.

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