ROJ-TV wins case in Germany

Kurdish satellite television channel, ROJ-TV, won its court case today against the German government, which had tried to close down the channel  after a request from the Turkish government (click here for background information on the case).  A tribunal in Leipzig effectively suspended the ban, asking the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg to rule on the case instead. Roj TV is based in Denmark, but its main audience comprises immigrants in Germany.

Germany’s Interior Ministry had earlier warned Roj TV it had no legal right to beam its satellite broadcasts down into the country because it backs the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK), a group defined as terrorist under both Turkish and German law.

The tribunal said those allegations were valid – but it transpired Germany had no power under European Union law to interfere in operations of a broadcasting enterprise incorporated in Denmark.

Judges said EU broadcasting law meant that it was up to Denmark to supervise Roj, which means “day” in the Kurdish language. Germany could only have shut down the channel if it had issued the broadcast licence in the first place.

The interior ministry had argued that legislation outlawing associations of terrorists made it possible for Berlin to seize the channel’s German assets and prevent its camera teams filming ethnic Kurdish rallies in Germany.

Authorities charged that Roj regularly gave blanket coverage to cultural festivals organized by PKK front organizations.

Turkey, which fought a long and bloody war against Kurdish separatists in the 1990s, has been urging EU nations to crack down harder on offshoots of the PKK, which draws a significant part of its funding from Kurdish migrants working in rich nations.

Source: Kurdish satellite TV channel overturns German ban, Earth Times, 25 February 2010.

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