Following our report (below) this morning at 11.24am, it is annouced at 3.30pm today that the ATR TV is shutting down because the Russian telecommunications regulator refused to grant a licence to the TV station.
— Kyiv Post (@KyivPost) April 1, 2015
The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) has today condemned the threat of closure facing the Simferopol-based ATR TV station in Crimea. The operation of ATR and other broadcasters (including children’s entertainment Lale and Meydan FM station) would become illegal imminently if the Russian telecommunications regulator (Roskomnadzor) refuses to grant a licence to the TV station.
ATR is the only Crimean Tatar-language channel in the world. The channel’s management has submitted the application to renew its licence three times. But each time, the Russian authorities have sent back the application and requested the station to provide more information before granting them the licence.
Lilya Budzhurova, deputy head of information policy at ATR channel, told Kyiv Post that the refusal to grant a licence to ART is because of political reasons rather than administrative ones. She worried that the ATR will be prosecuted by the Russian authorities if they fail to obtain the licence by 1 April.
This is not the first time that ATR is threatened by the authorities. On 26 January, a group of unidentified forces has raided the ATR newsroom in Simferopol. They also detained the staff, confiscated the equipment and shut down ATR’s analogue broadcasting during the raid.
Mogens Blicher Bjerregård, EFJ President said, “ATR must be allowed to broadcast in order to serve the public interests of the Crimean Tatars who have the equal right to freedom of information. The closure of ATR would be a serious violation of freedom of expression and media freedom in Crimea.”
Yuriy Lukanov, President of the Indepedent MediaTrade Union of Ukraine (IMTUU) said, “It seems that the closure of the Crimean Tatar TV channel is a wider process of media oppression. I fear that this is only the beginning and more critical media and journalists will face the same fate.”
(Photo: Activists stood with their mouths taped holding posters which read "the voice of freedom cannot be silence" during a rally to support ATR TV channel in Kyiv's Independence Square on March 28. © Volodymyr Petrov /Kyiv Post)