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B’cast border crossing gets tested

Montenegro denies license for administrative reasons

MONTENEGRO — Tensions between Serbia and Montenegro were exacerbated when Montenegro denied prominent Belgrade-based broadcasters TV B92 and TV BK licenses to operate in its territory.

Telecom agency director Zoran Sekulic cites administrative reasons for the rejection, but broadcast insiders say independence-minded Montenegro is flexing its muscles. Sekulic says that since the Montenegrin TV industry is limited in the licenses it can obtain in Serbia, the rejections represent a quid pro quo.

“We should have reciprocity in this sphere,” says Sekulic.

Montenegro’s intransigence is clouding the airwaves as Serbia struggles to regulate its TV industry and push forward with a privatization initiative later this year.

The constitutional reform that has emboldened Montenegro was essential to TV reform: Lawmakers in Belgrade had been prevented from appointing a broadcast council to oversee the industry and privatization. Now legislators are pushing forward to create a council, implement the 7-month-old Broadcasting Act and pass the Telecommunications Act, which will pave the way for the allocation of national TV frequencies for privatization.

Regulators in Montenegro note Serbia has not been completely shut out of its territory. Top-rated Serb network TV Pink legally operates in the republic, having obtained a license before Yugoslavia’s constitutional shakeup.

BK TV stated it will persist in its efforts to enter the Montenegrin market.

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