The undersigned international media freedom and journalist organisations today express alarm over the Kosovo authorities’ unprecedented move to suspend the business certificate of major private television broadcaster, Klan Kosova, and bring criminal charges against its representatives.
The actions of the Ministry of Industry, Entrepreneurship and Trade are extremely serious and pose a serious threat to the exercise of media freedom in Kosovo. This is the first time in the country’s history that a broadcaster’s business certificate has been suspended in such a manner. Withdrawing the business certificate, which could lead to the revocation of the broadcast license, is a very extreme measure and should only be taken in extraordinary circumstances and in full compliance with the rule of law.
Our organisations are concerned that the order to suspend the certificate is arbitrary and was not taken on a solid legal basis. The announcement was made with no prior warning, the procedure used to justify the suspension does not appear to be applicable within relevant national law, and the Business Registration Agency does not possess the competence to unilaterally suspend a certificate.
We further note with concern that this act of apparent political pressure on a major TV station by the Vetëvendosje Movement undermines Kosovo’s progress on media freedom in recent years, which our organisations jointly noted following a recent international mission to the country in November 2022.
On 14 June, the Ministry summoned the representative of Klan Kosovo’s parent company for an unspecified meeting during which the Minister informed that the station’s business certificate would be suspended. It was also revealed that a criminal complaint had been initiated at the Department of Serious Crimes against the television station and people within its ownership structure. The justification of the suspension measure involves the address with which the owner of the Klan Kosovo’s parent company, KGO Media Investments Holding, had registered his businesses.
After careful assessment of these developments, we do not believe the justification to suspend the certificate has sufficient legal grounds. Rather, we share the view of the Association of Journalists of Kosovo (AJK) that this move by the Ministry represents a worrying attempt to apply political pressure on Klan Kosova and its owners. We express our solidarity with the channel’s newsroom and journalists during this period of uncertainty.
For now, the TV channel and radio remains on air and its news website continues to function. If the business certificate were to be formally withdrawn following a court order, its broadcast licence would face revocation and it would be forced to cease operations. Klan Kosova strongly criticised the measure and is preparing to appeal, which would stay the measure until further notice. It said it was also preparing further legal responses.
Later today, 16 June, the Independent Media Commission (IMC), which oversees the country’s broadcast media, is due to meet to discuss the issue. Given serious questions over the legality and procedure of the decision, our organisations call for any decision regarding Klan Kosova to be postponed until the situation has been clarified and a thorough legal assessment has been completed.
Moving forward, we also urge Prime Minister Kurti and Minister Hajdari to ensure the suspension of Klan Kosovoa’s business certificate is immediately rescinded and that all forms of pressure against media – both political, administrative and regulatory – are ceased at once.
Our organisations will continue to monitor this situation closely and will respond to further developments. We continue to support the unhindered exercise of journalistic freedoms in Kosovo.
International Press Institute (IPI)
European Federation of Journalists (EFJ)
International Federation of Journalists (IFJ)
European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF)
Reporters Without Borders (RSF)