Sunday, May 07, 2006

Roj TV on air in Sweden

Saturday, May 6, 2006

ANKARA - Turkish Daily News

A Denmark-based television station that Turkey says is a mouthpiece for the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) has started broadcasting in Sweden via a cable television network, CNN-Türk reported from Stockholm yesterday.

"We will soon investigate the issue of Roj TV broadcasting in Sweden. I'll make an assessment later," Turkey's ambassador to Sweden told the TV channel when he was asked about the issue.

Late last month Justice Minister Cemil Çiçek stated clearly that Danish authorities currently have sufficient evidence for the closure of Copenhagen-based Roj TV which Turkey accuses of provoking deadly street clashes in southeastern Anatolia earlier this year.

His remarks were a response to Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen saying that Denmark expected Turkey to present new evidence to finalize the ongoing police investigation into alleged ties between Roj TV and the outlawed PKK.

The CNN-Türk report on Roj TV came from Stockholm on the same day the Turkish Daily News reported from Washington that the United States is seeking the closure of European-based media outlets acting as mouthpieces for the PKK.

"We work very closely with Turkey to identify organizations associated with the PKK," said Kurt Volker, principal deputy assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, without citing the names of any such PKK-related media outlets.

UPC Sverige AB (UPC Sweden), which put Roj TV on its cable services, is one of the largest broadband companies in Sweden, providing television and broadband Internet services in the greater Stockholm area. Based on the companies operating statistics from Dec. 31, 2005, UPC Sweden's networks reached approximately 300,000 homes. These include 91,000 broadband Internet and 59,000 digital TV customers.

Company directors speaking to CNN-Türk noted that there has been a huge interest in Roj TV, but avoided giving specific numbers of subscribers due to their principle of secrecy.

UPC Sweden also provides broadcasting of Turkey-based public channel TRT-Int and also Turkey-based private channels TGRT and Show TV.

The PKK is listed as a terrorist organization by the European Union, the United States and Turkey.

There was no official statement from authorities of EU member Sweden concerning the issue as of yesterday.

Roj TV has been a source of tension between Turkey and Denmark for the last two years. Denmark launched an investigation into whether Roj TV has links to the PKK only late last year and refuses to take action until their investigation is complete.

The Danish Radio and Television Board ruled last year that the station's programming could not be considered inflammatory but said it had asked police to look into alleged ties between Roj TV and the PKK.

Turkey had previously succeeded in ensuring the closure of two other European-based Kurdish television stations. MED-TV had its license revoked in Britain while France refused to grant a license to its successor, MEDYA-TV.