Illustration. Photo: BIRN

Kosovo Govt Condemned for Suspending Broadcaster’s Business Certificate

Media organisations have voiced concern for media freedom after the Kosovo government suspended the business certificate of the country's major private broadcaster.

Local and international media organizations accused the Kosovo government of attempting to curb media freedom after the Ministry of Industry, Entrepreneurship and Trade suspended the business certificate of the private broadcaster Klan Kosova.

The ministry on Wednesday suspended its business certificate and initiated a criminal complaint against the company, responsible persons within it, and officials from the Business Registration Agency, on suspicion of misuse of official duties as well as misuse of economic authorizations.

According to a decision shared by the Association of Journalists of Kosovo, AJK, the ministry suspended Klan Kosova’s business certificate because the owners’ residential address is allegedly registered as “Peje-Serbia and Gjakove-Serbia… [which is] in violation with the basic principles of the Constitution of the Republic of Kosovo”. Both of these towns are in Kosovo, not Serbia.

The TV channel remains on air while the Independent Media Commission, IMC, an institution responsible for the regulation, management and oversight of the broadcasters, said it was analyzing the case.

Klan Kosova called the decision illegal and “unfair, arbitrary and with autocratic premises … and an attempt to violate the freedom of the media”.

Klan Kosova said the claim that their owners’ address was given as Peje-Serbia and Gjakove-Serbia “stemmed from a speculative article from an online portal, only a day ago”.

The AJK called the decision “unprecedented in the recent history of Kosovo, and a direct attempt to dictate and control the media content of Klan Kosova”.

It expressed concern for the staff of Klan Kosova who will be directly affected by “this arbitrary decision,” and claimed that the decision “was taken to send a message to other media, and is indisputable proof that freedom of the media and expression has never been more at risk than they are currently”.

Ricardo Gutierrez, General Secretary of the European Federation of Journalists, also expressed concern.

“Withdrawing a business certificate of a media company is an extremely serious act. Especially when we’re talking about a country’s leading private broadcaster. Shame on [Prime Minister] Albin Kurti and his government,” Gutierrez wrote on Twitter.

15/06/2023 - 15:31

15 June 2023 - 15:31

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