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Tuesday, March 23, 1999 Published at 09:57 GMT


Kurdish TV station closed down

Med-TV broadcasts Kurdish language programmes across Europe

Protestors have gathered outside the office of the UK's commercial television watchdog after a London-based Kurdish TV station was shut down for broadcasting material likely to incite violence.

Kurdish language station Med-TV has had its licence suspended by the Independent Television Commission.

The ITC said several broadcasts by the Kurdish-language company Med-TV had included calls to carry out violent acts in Turkey.

Med-TV has been given three weeks to convince the ITC to allow the station to continue broadcasting.

"The essence of these recent breaches is that the broadcasts contain calls to direct violence and criminal actions of various kinds," ITC's Director of Programmes and Cable, Sarah Thane, said.

The broadcasts were made after Turkey's arrest of Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan last month.

They featured messages from Kurdish leaders calling for acts of violence in Turkey.

Earlier fine

Med-TV, which has been broadcasting to Kurds in Europe since 1995, was fined £90,000 ($147,000) last year for breaking British regulations.

Turkish authorities have accused the station of being a mouthpiece for separatist Kurdish guerrillas.

[ image: Broadcasts followed Abdullah Ocalan's arrest]
Broadcasts followed Abdullah Ocalan's arrest
Turkey has welcomed the decision to suspend Med-TV's licence, and called for the move to be made permanent.

The ITC said it had received calls from Turkish authorities to revoke the licence, but the decision was made purely on legal grounds.

A crowd of more than 100 protesters gathered outside the ITC building in central London after the announcement was made on Monday to demand that the regulator overturn its decision.

Organisers accused the broadcasting authorities of caving in to political pressure from the Turkish authorities.

Some protestors said they would remain outside the ITC until the ruling was changed.

The so-far peaceful demonstration looks set to continue into the night as police erected barriers to stop the crowd from spilling onto the street.

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