NTN Asks For Broadcast License During Court Hearing

KIEV, Ukraine -- Ukrainian broadcast journalists from Ukraine's independently owned NTN television station today asked the Yushchenko administration to respect the rule of law and grant NTN its broadcast license during the station's April 28 court hearing. The court hearing will determine NTN TV's broadcast status, following the Yushchenko administration denying NTN its license despite both a Ukrainian arbitrage and appellate court decision ruling in the station's favor.

NTN Editor-in-Chief Nataliya Katerynchuk

"Ukrainian President Yushchenko's government has launched a politically motivated attack on NTN television by denying the station its broadcast rights, despite a licensing body and two Ukrainian courts mandating the approval," said Boris Iliyashenko, Managing Director and Editor, NTN TV Company. "It appears that the Yushchenko administration's displeasure with one of the owners has prompted the Ukrainian authorities to attempt a re- nationalization of NTN and to interfere in the station's licensing procedure."

NTN (owned in part by Eduard Prutnik, a former advisor to Viktor Yanukovych -- Yushchenko's opponent during the 2004 Ukrainian presidential election) applied for an increased broadcast license following the 2004 Ukrainian presidential election and was approved by two licensing organizations -- the State Committee on Communications and Information and the Ukrainian Council on Television and Radio. The Ukrainian Council on Television and Radio reversed its decision, however, after facing heavy-handed pressure from the Yushchenko administration, and refused to extend the station's broadcast license or renew the already existing license. Despite rulings in favor of NTN's licensing from a Ukrainian arbitrage and appellate court, mandating that the licensing bodies recognize NTN's existing broadcast license and approve an increased licensing application, the Ukrainian Council on Television and Radio continued to refuse and the Ukrainian attorney general initiated procedures against NTN for non-licensing, which would result in the station's re-nationalization.

"President Yushchenko's administration must not treat NTN differently from other Ukrainian television stations, which received licenses in the same process that NTN did," said Nataliya Katerynchuk, Editor-in-chief, NTN TV Company. "Preferential treatment of some television stations and politically motivated interference against others is contrary to President Yushchenko's statements during the 'orange revolution,' when he voiced his support for a free Ukrainian media."

Ukraine's privately owned NTN television station was founded in 2004. Reporters Without Borders "cautioned Ukraine's new authorities against any attempt to seek revenge against news media with ties to the old regime" following an April 2, 2005 NTN protest against the Yushchenko administration's actions. NTN's April 28 court hearing will determine whether the Ukrainian attorney general must recognize the station's broadcast license.

Source: NTN TV