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MED TV was an international Kurdish satellite TV station with studios in London, England and Denderleeuw, Belgium. MED TV broadcast programs mainly in six languages, Kurdish (Sorani and Kurmanji dialects), Zaza, English, Arabic, Assyrian and Turkish. MED TV's license was revoked on April 23, 1999, as their broadcasts were judged as 'likely to encourage or incite crime or lead to disorder'. Its license was revoked just after the arrest of PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan, at the official request of Turkey.
Programs and audience
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MED TV Programmes were a varied mix from children's programmes, music, drama through to political discussions, documentaries and news broadcasts. It broadcast to Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. Its primary audience was in the Middle East where it was seen by many as a refreshing source of information outside of state censorship. It also has a large audience amongst the Kurdish population scattered throughout Europe.
Independent Television Commission (ITC) Press release read:
After repeated failure to comply with the requirements of its licence and following a period of suspension, the Kurdish satellite channel Med TV was served a notice by the ITC revoking its licence on 23 April. The licensee's service remained suspended until the notice came into effect in 28 days as required by law. Med TV's licence was suspended on 22 March by the ITC under section 45A of the Broadcasting Act 1990, following four broadcasts which included inflammatory statements encouraging acts of violence in Turkey and elsewhere. These were judged by the ITC as 'likely to encourage or incite crime or lead to disorder'. This is against UK law, as set out in the 1990 and 1996 Broadcasting Acts.
In his statement ITC chairman Sir Robin Biggam announced that:
We took particular and sympathetic account of the circumstances in which the broadcasts in question were made and the changes which Med TV proposed to make to its service in future. However, the Commission decided that it was necessary in the public interest to revoke this licence and has served a notice on the licence holder to that effect. Whatever sympathy there may be in the United Kingdom for the Kurdish people, it is not in the public interest to have any broadcaster use the UK as a platform for broadcasts which incite people to violence. Med TV have been given many opportunities to be a peaceful voice for their community; to allow them to continue broadcasting after such serious breaches would be to condone the misuse of the UK’s system for licensing broadcasters... In considering Med TV’s representations, in particular the remedial action proposed, we had to bear in mind that there have been most serious and repeated failures on their part to comply with their licence and the ITC Programme Code. There has also been a failure to implement effectively undertakings made to the Commission in the past. Under these circumstances, the Commission was not satisfied that measures short of revocation would prevent repetition. We regret that this action has proved necessary, but we must take into account the requirements placed upon us by Parliament to act in such circumstances.
Following the ban there were widespread allegations of bias on the part of the ITC as the then chairman had interests in Balfour Beaty and BaE Systems which both had extensive interests in Turkey.
On April 26, 1999, a spokesman for MED-TV said that they were determined to resume broadcasting either in a different country or under a new name.
It is not in the public interest to have any broadcaster use the UK as a platform for broadcasts which incite people to violence.— ITC Chairman Sir Robin Biggam.
When I went to Diyarbakir and Mardin in December 1995 for the Turkish general election, I enquired particularly whether that TV station [Med-TV] was being received and what was the public response. I was told that the viewers were positively rapturous. Old people had wept for joy after such a long period of cultural starvation. For all, it was a new window on the world and, what is more, in their own language.
After the ban
When Med TV lost its licence in the UK, MEDYA TV started transmissions from studios in Belgium via a satellite uplink from France on July 30, 1999. MEDYA TV's licence was revoked by the French authorities on February 13, 2004, the French court believed that the station had ties with PKK; and CSA, the French licensing authority stated that MEDYA TV was a successor to MED-TV, and French Appeal Court confirmed CSA's decision. The channel ran an announcement stating that "A new channel, Roj TV, will begin broadcasting on the first of the month".
- Les Kurdes privés de leur télé, L'Humanité, 2004-02-23. (French)
- "Bulletin No. 8". ITC Bulletins.
- Keith Parkins 1997 (November 1997). "MMed-TV - Kurdish Satellite Television".
- "Mark Thomas Info". Archived from the original on 2008-03-13. Retrieved 2008-08-08.
- "Little Biggam man". The Guardian. Retrieved 2008-08-08.
- "UK regulator revokes Kurdish Med TV's licence". BBC News. 1999-04-23. Retrieved 2008-08-08.
- Rezaei, Siamek. "Med-TV Kurdish Satellite TV is shut down". Retrieved 2007-08-14.
- Lords Hansard text, 18 July 1997
- Medya TV starts broadcasting.
- Clandestine Radio Watch #154, 2004-03-15.
- Clandestine Radio Watch #153, 2004-02-29.