Despite numerous appeals and statements released by media outlets geared at the broader public, relevant public institutions and the international community, no adequate response has been received as of yet. Moreover, no response has been received from local cable television providers, who would otherwise be in a position to allow the airing of programmes by RTV Mir from Leposavić. We would draw attention to the fact that on the 5th of January of this year, RTV Mir was taken off the air in north of Kosovo after MTS DOO took ownership of local cable television providers.

In regards to the protection of freedom of the press, we draw attention to the United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states that “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.” Accordingly, the freedom of expression constitutes a fundamental human right in which democracy and the set(s) of rights guaranteed by local laws and international conventions are grounded.

Likewise, the decision of cable TV providers is in direct violation of Law No. 04/L-44 on the Independent Media Commission that regulates “the rights, obligations and the responsibilities of individuals and legal entities that provide audio and audio-visual media services” as well as Order NKM 2016/1 that stipulates clear rules and procedures on the dissemination and provision of audiovisual services and that obligates providers of those services to ensure access in a “transparent, responsible and non-discriminatory fashion” to all users.

It is a fact that, at a particularly critical juncture, this decision taken by local cable providers has left both the local population as well as the wider public denied of objective, impartial and professional reporting. We consider it to be unnecessary to draw attention to the importance of the role played by the media in socio-political life, particularly at a time when the timely transmission of information to the broader public and exchanges of information are crucial in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

It is for these reasons that we appeal, first and foremost, to cable television providers from the north of Kosovo, VGN, Impuls and SAT, to return RTV Mir to the air without further delay and to thereby demonstrate their understanding of the seriousness of the situation that we face as a society. At the same time, we call on MTS DOO to show a higher level of social responsibility at a time of severe public health challenges and to fulfil their contractual obligations towards RTV Mir by allowing it access to cable TV networks.

Empirika Members:

Aktiv, Advocacy Center for Democratic Culture (ACDC), Center for ther Rights of Minority Communities, EMEG, Forum for Development and Multiethnic Cooperation (FDMC), Gračanica Online, Humani centar Mitrovica, Communication for Social Development (CSD), New Press, Radio Kontakt plus, RTV Kim, RTV Mir.

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