Paris, 16 February {No. 96-34} - UNESCO Director-General Federico Mayor today strongly protested the takeover by authorities of NTV Studio B, an independent television station in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

Created as a state enterprise in 1972 by Belgrade's Municipal Council and independent since 1991, the station had received UNESCO's support since the start of conflict in the former Yugoslavia. The Organization notably raised US$450,000 to aid the station whose broadcast range reaches some 3.5 million viewers. Mr Mayor had personally intervened on numerous occasions with national authorities to defend the station's independent status.

Over the past four months, NTV Studio B had participated in a project to exchange news items among independent television stations in Belgrade, Sarajevo and Skopje, organized by UNESCO and the Worldwide Television News.

"I have learned that the private NTV Studio B station in Belgrade has lost its independence, a status it had maintained throughout the conflict in the former Yugoslavia. I strongly protest this action against freedom of the press, an indivisible element of democracy and a culture of peace, which UNESCO defends just as it does the independence and pluralism of the media. UNESCO calls upon media professionals and defenders of democracy to do everything possible so that an independent television station can again exist in that country," Mr Mayor declared.


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