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 Danish Radio and TV board in new investigation of Kurdish Roj TV

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Danish Radio and TV board in new investigation of Kurdish Roj TV  24.1.2012  

Danish Board Chair Christian Scherfig. The Content and editing of some Roj TV programs in the last three years would be investigated. Photo: Søren Svendsen/Dansk Design Center See Related Links
January 24, 2012

COPENHAGEN, — National radio and television authorities have announced they plan to reopen their investigation of Roj TV.

Danish Radio and Television Board launched a new investigation decision on Kurdish Roj TV. The Board announced that the content and editing of some Roj TV programs in the last three years would be investigated.

The investigation was announced by Board Chair Christian Scherfig who remarked that the decision had been made in connection with the Copenhagen Court’s verdict on the channel and added that "The court’s decision has provided a reason for our board to reevaluate many points in accordance with the broadcast act. Apart from the content of broadcasts, it is also of importance by whom and where the decisions on broadcasting are made, because the Radio Television Broadcasting Act says that if an establishment is allowed to broadcast in Denmark, decisions regarding its broadcasting are also made in this country".

Remarking that the investigation wouldn’t include the broadcasts which were presented as evidence by the prosecutor at the trial, Scherfig said that "Following the investigation of the programs of the last three years, our board will rule whether the channel’s broadcasting permission will be cancelled or not. It is at present difficult to say something about the result to come or how long the examination will last."

The decision of the board will be made on the basis of the works by authorized translators, noted Schrefig and added that they would also receive the approval of Turkish Embassy as to the correctness of translations.

Radio and Television Board Chair Scherfig also noted that they had met the Turkish Ambassador in Copenhagen following the verdict of Copenhagen Court, and added that "The Ambassador only presented information about the present situation. It is never a matter of any kind of pressure.2

A decision handed down by the Copenhagen City Court in early January found the station guilty of promoting the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which is considered a terrorist organisation by the US, Canada and the EU.

While the station was found guilty of violating anti-terrorism laws, the court said it could not revoke the station's broadcast licence due to a legal technicality.

After the verdict, members of parliament announced that they would be looking to introduce legislation designed to close the loophole and shut the station down. Broadcast authority Radio og TV Nævnet said at that time that only it could withdraw a broadcast licence, and that the court could not legislate retroactively.

"The ruling highlighted several factors allowing for an assessment under the Broadcasting Act," Scherfig said in a statement. "The station’s content and the influence of the PKK on editorial decisions should be examined."

Meanwhile, the European broadcasting service provider Eutelsat announced it had removed Roj TV from its signal.

“Eutelsat has decided to suspend Roj TV on its satellites in order to avoid being liable for criminal responsibility for abetting terrorist activities,” Eutelsat said in a statement.

Eutelsat has asked distributors uplinking Roj TV to its satellites to stop broadcasting the channel. The organisation says it cannot selectively turn off the signal on its own, because the process of doing so could affect other broadcasters.

Despite Eutelsat’s decision, the station can still be seen in Denmark, western Europe and parts of Turkey. Viewers in areas of Turkey, as well as Syria, Iraq and Iran can only see the broadcasts online.

A group of young Kurds have occupied the offices of Eutelsat in Paris on Monday. The action is to protest against the French provider to suspend broadcasts by Roj TV. At least 20 people have been taken into custody ANF website reported.

Roj TV has appealed the Copenhagen verdict and says it is still on the air.

“Our broadcasts have not been stopped," said Imdat Yilmaz, Roj TV’s general manager. "It is unfair that they did this based on a case that has not been settled."

Yilmaz said the station is looking for other ways to have its signal broadcast.

The Turkish government, which has long complained that the station should be shut down, issued a release praising Eutelsat's decision saying it was a natural outcome of the court's decision.

Since it was established in 1984, the Kurdistan Workers' Party PKK has been fighting the Turkish state, which still denies the constitutional existence of Kurds, to establish a Kurdish state in the south east of the country, sparking a conflict that has claimed some 45,000 lives.

But now its aim is the creation an autonomous Kurdish region and more cultural rights for ethnic Kurds who constitute the greatest minority in Turkey, numbering more than 20 million. A large Turkey's Kurdish community openly sympathise with the Kurdish PKK rebels.

PKK's demands included releasing PKK detainees, lifting the ban on education in Kurdish, paving the way for an autonomous democrat Kurdish system within Turkey, reducing pressure on the detained PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan, stopping military action against the Kurdish party and recomposing the Turkish constitution.

Turkey refuses to recognize its Kurdish population as a distinct minority. It has allowed some cultural rights such as limited broadcasts in the Kurdish language and private Kurdish language courses with the prodding of the European Union, but Kurdish politicians say the measures fall short of their expectations.

PKK is considered as 'terrorist' organization by Ankara, U.S., the PKK continues to be on the blacklist list in EU despite court ruling which overturned a decision to place the Kurdish rebel group PKK and its political wing on the European Union's terror list. 

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