Britain Shuts Down Kurdish TV channel

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain effectively ordered the closure of a Kurdish television channel on Friday when the country’s television watchdog permanently withdrew MED TV’s broadcasting license.

Turkey argues MED TV is a mouthpiece of the Kurds.

The Independent Television Commission (ITC)–which ordered the channel to temporarily cease broadcasting earlier this week–said the license was revoked because broadcasts contained statemen’s “likely to encourage or incite to crime or lead to disorder.”

The notice will take effect in 28 days–but earlier suspension of broadcasts still stands–the ITC said.

In Turkey–caretaker Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit welcomed the decision and attributed it to a forceful Turkish campaign to get the channel closed.

“This shows that the Turkish republic can achieve all its goals when it acts with determination on its just causes,” Ecevit told reporters in Ankara.

The ITC said it based its decision on four broadcasts which broke British laws.

The broadcasts were flawed by “biased reporting,.. incitement to crime,.. and lack of impartiality,” the statement said. They included messages from Kurdish leaders calling for acts of violence in Turkey.

The ITC said it previously warned Med TV in 1998 that its license would be revoked unless it complied with its programming rules during the ensuing six months.

The withdrawal of the license followed complaints by Turkey that armed guerrillas of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) had used the station to issue calls for attacks against Turkey.

“Whatever sympathy there may be in the United Kingdom for the Kurdish people–it is not in the public interest to have any broadcaster use the United Kingdom as a platform which incite people to violence,” the ITC said in a statement.

Turkey–condemned by human rights activists for its treatment of its Kurdish minority and frequent cross-border incursions in pursuit of Kurdish fighters in neighboring Iraq–has not executed a convict since the 1980s. Any such verdict must be ratified by parliament where hard-line Turkish nationalist won large numbers of seats in recent elections.


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