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Thursday, 13 April, 2000, 17:43 GMT 18:43 UK
Serb media defies government
Studio B
Studio B television has refused to pay a heavy fine
By Jacky Rowland in Belgrade

The alternative media in Serbia are once again in conflict with the authorities over a much criticised information law, which journalists say is designed to stifle reporting before elections due later this year.

This week a television station - Studio B, and an independent news magazine, Vreme, have been convicted of breaking the law - which was introduced in Serbia 18 months ago - and have been fined heavily.


Magazines showing Studio B logo
Studio B has a history of run-ins with the government
The director of Studio B, Dragan Kojadinovic, said the fine would not be paid and the television station was prepared to defend itself. Vreme has also refused to pay.

Confiscations

Last month a number of radio and television stations came into conflict with the authorities over the use of frequencies.

Police confiscated equipment from several stations, although some of this has since been returned.

The situation of the alternative media will be raised during an opposition rally in Belgrade on Friday.

Journalists and opposition leaders have accused the authorities of misusing the law to try to stifle the alternative media before elections due later this year.

One small opposition party, the Democratic Alternative, has urged journalists to defy courts' decisions under the information law, arguing that paying fines merely helps the government stay in power.

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