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Wednesday, March 24, 1999 Published at 16:20 GMT

World: Europe

Radio B92 - off the air but on the Net

Tuning into the Cyber age - journalists are defying the shut down

Yugoslavia's main independent radio station, B92, is defying the authorities by continuing to broadcast live on the internet and via satellite.

Alexander Vasoviic: "This is a clear-cut case of imposing a media blackout"
While the nation awaits the first Nato air strikes, skeleton staff at B92 are using all available technology to continue to broadcast pop music and latest news on the web's Real Audio facility and by satellite.

Officials from the telecommunications ministry, backed by five uniformed inspectors and a police patrol, marched into radio B-92's Belgrade studio at 0300 (0200 GMT) on Wednesday and ordered the radio to stop broadcasting immediately.

Station editor Veran Matic was arrested and remaining staff were handed a blunt written warning to abandon all electronic media.

"This is the third most unpleasant experience in my life," radio journalist Alexander Vasoviic told the BBC. "We were closed down before in 1991 and 1996, so this is now the third time."

Computer ban

Radio B92 was given a blunt warning to stop using the equipment immediately.

The statement said: "With the purpose of preventing further operation of the radio station, officials will carry out temporary seizure of radio equipment until the decision of the competent agency. Appeal does not suspend the enforcement of the ruling."

[ image: All systems go - the station is broadcasting live]
All systems go - the station is broadcasting live
The authorities said the radio station had exceeded its permitted signal power, but B92 staff denied this.

"The real reason they had to shut us down is because we were informing people about what is going on," said one journalist on the station.

B92 journalists were ordered not to answer telephone calls and not to use the computers in the studio.

The station broadcast via satellite the authorities' attempt to take the station off air.

It said: "At 0250 [0150 gmt] last night, two technicians of the Yugoslav Telecommunications Ministry, accompanied by some 10 policemen, entered the premises of B92 radio and ordered an immediate suspension of broadcasts."

Wednesday's shut down of B-92 was the latest in a series of actions by Yugoslav authorities to close independent or opposition newspapers and radio stations.

B92's programming is based around music and news, and it is one of the three most popular station in Belgrade.

The station's independence has been demonstrated over the years starting with its coverage of protest actions against the manipulation of state-run media in March 1991, of the war in Bosnia-Hercegovina in 1991 and 1992, and of students protests in 1992.

The station has been a constant irritant for the authorities in Belgrade which have taken a number of actions against it over the years, ranging from jamming, technical problems or the allocation of frequencies.

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