Reporters Without Borders condemns privately-owned Rrokum TV’s continuing suspension by the Kosovar broadcasting network and internet provider IPKO. Although it has a contract guaranteeing its transmission for five years, Rrokum TV was dropped from IPKO’s network of 80 local, regional and international TV stations without warning on 1 April. IPKO has at first blamed technical problems and the need to do maintenance work.
“We urge IPKO to resume broadcasting of Rrokum TV without delay,” Reporters Without Borders said. “If there are still technical problems, they should be clearly identified and reported to Rrokum TV. If there are no technical problems, then the only reason for not reinstating Rrokum TV must be external political pressure.”
Launched in January 2008, Rrokum TV is owned by Migjen Kelmendi, one of Pristina’s best known journalists and winner of the Reporters Without Borders Austria prize in 2007. Kelmendi says the Kosovar government does not like Rrokum TV and may have pressured IPKO to drop it. Some of IPKO’s shareholders are government supporters and it funds a newspaper, Daily Express, which supports the government.
Kelmendi told Reporters Without Borders: “They broke the contract two months ago without any warning although it clearly specifies that six months’ notice is needed. There has been no complaint from their side, and no reason to claim that we have neglected our commercial obligations.”
He added: “I assume this decision was a consequence of our recent coverage of the government’s cosy relationship with the national television station RTK and the government’s support for the new station, TV Klan Kosova.”
Rrokum TV has become very popular in Kosovo by covering financial and political scandals affecting the government. It also gives airtime to members of the opposition and small groups that are not affiliated to the main political parties and have limited access to the state-owned RTK. It can still be viewed via the Internet Service Provider Kujtesa, but its survival is threatened by the financial losses stemming from its exclusion by IPKO.