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Web keeps Kosovo broadcast alive

Yugoslav authorities forced the country's main independent radio station off the air Wednesday and took the station's editor-in-chief into custody -- but Belgrade Radio B92 is still broadcasting its coverage of the war on the Internet.
Written by ZDNet UK, Contributor

NATO and U.S. officials said the shutdown of the station contributed to the decision to begin the first military action against a sovereign NATO country in the organisation's 50-year history. Radio B92 officials said in a terse statement on the station's Web site that the editor, Veran Matic, was taken away by police and held for more than eight hours before being released.

But they said the online broadcasts would continue, and as of late in the day Wednesday, the radio site was still operational. Text versions of the station's news stories are being posted on a separate station site. The station was forced off the air shortly before the 3 a.m. GMT news broadcast was to begin, on orders from the Telecommunications Ministry, who entered the studios with a police patrol, station personnel said.

"The official from the ministry said the strength of the transmitter exceeded our license, so they shut us down," B92 foreign editor Aleksandar Vasovik said. "But the real reason they had to shut us down is because we were informing people about what is going on," he said.

The Yugoslav government has closed a number of independent or opposition newspapers and radio stations in recent weeks.

The station shutdown came just hours after NATO began air strikes against Serbian military targets after President Slobodan Milosevic firmly rejected a peace offer to settle the conflict in Kosovo, the southern Serbian province whose ethnic Albanian majority wants independence.

Also Wednesday, Serbian television officials banned CNN, ABC and a German television network from transmitting television signals from Belgrade following the start of the air strikes. The networks were banned from using state-owned facilities to transmit their reports.

Reuters contributed to this report

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