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Media Policy Institute: Closing of “September” TV channel is illegal

Media Policy Institute considers the decision of the court to close «September» TV channel illegal. The organization’s comment is published today on its Facebook page.

Media Policy Institute notes that it is possible to stop media activities only on the basis of laws on the media and on countering extremist activity. Such a decision can only be taken by a court.

According to the Law on Combating Extremist Activity, the court may suspend the implementation of the relevant issues of the periodical or circulation, audio or video recording of the program or the release of a corresponding television, radio or video program in the manner provided for taking measures to secure the claim.

In the case of «September,» the judge establishes that «the actions of the television channel are subject to signs of extremist activity.» But the institute noted that in this case there is a specific procedure for action. First of all, the right to establish the existence of extremism in information materials is given not to the editor-in-chief of this or that media or to the prosecutor, but only to the court. At the time of the trial on the September TV channel, Abdulla Kaparov’s statement of September 29, 2016 was not recognized by the court as extremist.

The decision to terminate the work of the media may be imposed not for the publication of one «extremist» material, but only if extremist materials are distributed through it. Abdulla Kaparov’s interview came out on «September» TV channel only once.

According to the law, a lawsuit to the court must be preceded by repeated procuratorial warnings with specification of specific violations. So, having suspected that the material broadcasted in this media may be extremist, the government agency in the field of the media or the prosecutor issues a warning in writing about the inadmissibility of such actions, indicating specific grounds and violations committed.

The prosecutor has the right to file an action to terminate the activity of the media if, within the time limit set in the warning, no measures are taken to eliminate the violations or if new facts of violations are revealed within twelve months from the date of warning.

«Was there at least one warning to «September» about this interview? According to representatives of TRK, no. There is no mention of a directed caution in the judgment of August 22, 2017,» the institute notes.

In addition, media activities can be stopped only if its employees regularly violate the law, namely, they use the media to publish extremist materials.

Media Policy Institute

«The court banned TV broadcasting, although at the time of the court’s decision, the television channel didn’t publish any material that the court recognized as extremist. Thus, the so-called ban on the broadcasting of the September TV channel for the interview of Abdulla Kaparov of 2016, whose statements were determined only by the court in 2017 as extremist, is not legal,» the Media Policy Institute concluded.

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