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PA takes radio stations off-air over licensing debts

May 17, 2013 11:23 A.M. (Updated: June 4, 2013 5:27 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The Palestinian Authority's public prosecutor has temporarily taken some radio stations off-air in the West Bank after they failed to pay licensing fees, the Ministry of Communications said Friday.

Undersecretary Suliman al-Zuhari told Ma'an that his ministry handed the public prosecutor the names of radio stations which had not paid fees.

The ministry's licensing department only resorts to prosecution after issuing several warnings to stations which have not paid fees in over a year, al-Zuhari said.

Radio stations must pay 170,000 Jordanian dinars ($240,000) annually, and 50 of the 70 stations in the West Bank have paid until 2012, the ministry official said.

The other 20 stations have not paid, even though the ministry reduced the fees and allows stations to pay in installments, he added.

Unity Voice, based in al-Duheishe refugee camp in Bethlehem, was one of the radio stations closed. It urged all media institutes, human rights organizations and unions to stand by radio stations and to fight their closure.

"The closure of Unity Voice radio and other media agencies under the pretext that those agencies don't pay the licensing fees is unfair because this leads to silencing the voice of radios," the station said in a statement.

"These issues can be solved in a better way and everyone knows the difficult economic situations that the radio stations go through and Palestinians in general," the station added.

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