YU closes local independent television

BELGRADE, Mar 10, 2000 -- (Reuters) Yugoslav officials closed a provincial television and radio station on Thursday, the fourth major action against media critical of the government in the past week.

"A man came from the Telecommunications Ministry," Radisa Milosavljevic, owner of the Nemanja television and Tir radio station said by telephone from the central town of Cuprija.

"About ten uniformed policemen in two four-wheel drives came with the telecoms official and took away all the equipment - transmitters, radio links and a radio transmitter," he said.

"I am now in the police station to give a statement on what was taken away."

Milosavljevic said the official had told him his licence was not in order.

He said that like other opposition-minded media, his station had been unable to obtain a permanent licence, even though he had put in regular applications during state tenders and had received temporary licences which he said were still valid.

"We are powerless, we don't know why they did this. What can we do? All we can do is say we're not happy with what was done."

The station had been operating since 1995, covered a radius of 100 km (60 miles) and had up to one million viewers, he said.

Nemanja's editor-in-chief Vesna Stojkovic said the station was the only independent one in the area.

"They came and took equipment from the transmitter outside town as well as the television and radio buildings," she said.

On Wednesday, inspectors closed down the independent radio station in Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic's home town and last Thursday, the government effectively nationalised a popular national daily newspaper.

On Sunday, raiders in police uniforms damaged the transmitter of Serbia's biggest opposition television station, Studio B, and injured two workers.

Police denied any role in the attack. Serbian and federal information ministers said on state television that Studio B had staged the attack under instructions from the West to wage a propaganda war against their own country.

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