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News 11 Sep 12

New Macedonian TV Station Revives Dissident Spirit

A new TV station, A3, will try to revive the spirit of the once prominent national station, A1 TV, which was shut down last year by the authorities.

Sinisa Jakov Marusic
BIRN
Skopje

Photo by: Sinisa Jakov Marusic

The new station's editor-in-chief, Aco Kabranov, said he intended to bring back the old A1 team of journalists.

“We will bring back 80 per cent of the old team of proven journalistic professionals from A1,” he told Balkan Insight.

The new TV station will not be registered in Macedonia but in Australia, and will broadcast news, panel discussions and other shows through a local cable operator.

“We will launch news bulletins on Wednesday and within some 20 days we will rebrand the already existing channel into A3 TV,” Kabranov said.

A1, once the most prominent pro-opposition media outlet in Macedonia, went off screen in July 2011 after a court in Skopje pronounced it bankrupt and following the arrest of its owner, Velija Ramkovski, who was later jailed for financial crimes.

Earlier that same month, three daily newspapers owned by Ramkovski; Vreme, Shpic and Koha e Re, were also closed because of unpaid taxes.

The crackdown was widely blamed on the cente-right government of Prime Minister Gruevski who has, however, denied involvement.

The European Commission, the OSCE, the Freedom House and the Vienna-based South East Europe Media Organisation, all expressed concern over the sudden closures of so many media outlets.

A3 is the second attempt to revive A1, at least in spirit.

A previous attempt failed earlier this year when the Broadcasting Council shut down A1's sister station, A2, shortly after it started to broadcast news bulletins and live political panels and to hire some of the journalists who previously worked in A1.

The council said that A2 had failed to meet the licensing criteria by not introducing enough news and original content on. The Worker’s Union of Journalists, SSNM, described this claim as "absurd".

In April, a new internet news portal, A1on, was launched, employing some of the original A1 staff.


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