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news 06 Nov 12

Pink 2 Replaces Serbia's Troubled TV Avala

A new TV channel has appeared on Serbian screens in place of the old TV Avala whose sale was recently blocked. 

Bojana Barlovac
BIRN
Belgrade

Serbian TV viewers who press the button of the former broadcaster TV Avala will now see a new channel, called Pink 2. The logo of the station looks just like that the existing TV Pink with an additional "2".

The development comes 10 days after the government put pressure on Zeljko Mitrovic, Avala's co-owner, to cancel a contract for the sale of the station. Mitrovic also owns TV Pink.

Goran Karadzic, vice-president of the Serbian Broadcasting Agency, RRA, said the new channel had not taken over Avala's national frequency but was operating as a cable channel.

"It [TV Pink 2] is a cable channel and Pink has a license to broadcast 20 such channels, including this one," Karadzic explained.

Following the interruption to the sale, the RRA withdrew Avala's broadcasting licence on October 26.

The RRA said the broadcaster had failed to pay fees to the agency and had failed to produce a programme scheme, as national broadcasters are obliged to do.

Avala's workforce only found out about the new channel after seeing it on TV. No one had contacted them.

"The employees at Avala are shocked with the way the television has been shut down and with the speed with which Pink 2 appeared instead," a union statement said.

Avala obtained a national frequency in 2006 but has faced financial problems for years. The employees have not been paid since last December and live programmes were suspended in May, two months after a strike ended.

As a result of the halt to the sale, TV Avala, whose debts in 2010 amounted €25.7 million in short-term loans, services and credits, faced bancruptcy. Its workforce of around 90 now appear to be jobless.

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