Last non-government Radio in Belgrade goes off air

BELGRADE, May 18, 2000 -- (Reuters) Radio Pancevo, the last non-government station still being heard in Belgrade after the government takeover of Studio B, said on Wednesday it had been taken off the air.

"Our transmitter, located in Belgrade's Visnjica district, was cut off at 1905 (1705 GMT) when we started a live broadcast of the Belgrade rally to protest at the closure of Studio B," Dragan Vukasinovic, the station's deputy editor-in-chief, told Reuters.

Pancevo is located some 20 km (12 miles) northeast of Belgrade, just across the Danube. The station had been reporting extensively on the government's takeover of the television station Studio B early on Wednesday, which also blocked other non-government media including independent radio stations located in the building.

Vukasinovic said he did not know what had happened to the transmitter, which is located on a facility belonging to the Serbian Interior Ministry, and were checking.

"We will shortly switch on our reserve transmitter in Pancevo but it only covers the Pancevo area," he said.

Before the transmitter was cut off, Pancevo radio broadcasts were interfered with and classical, patriotic and national music was intermittently heard on its frequency in the afternoon.

The European Union on Wednesday condemned the crackdown on independent media in Serbia and said it stood firmly behind opposition forces in their struggle for democracy.

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