[spectre] (fwd) Macedonia's blackout

Andreas Broeckmann abroeck at transmediale.de
Thu Jun 10 10:49:34 CEST 2004

From: Novica Nakov <novican at mt.net.mk>
To: nettime-l at bbs.thing.net
Subject: <nettime> Macedonia's blackout
Date: Thu, 10 Jun 2004 01:43:19 +0200

I decided to write a thing or two about what is happening (or is bound to
happen) in Macedonia in a period of 30 or so days, and I believe that this
topics could be interesting for nettime readers. So here we go.

On 24th of May 2004, local radio station Kanal 103 disappeared from the air
after 13 years. In short (and btw this is the official story), the
institutions governing TV and Radio failed to find a legal solution for the
radio, and decided to follow the law and plug-of the radio that didn't use an
approved frequency.
Kanal 103 was a part of the Macedonian Radio Television (MRTV) and it
transmitted program in Skopje - the capital city. It was a non-commercial
radio station, mostly playing music and it was the only place in Macedonia
where people could hear new cutting-edge music. It was the only place where
Macedonian demo groups could have their tracks played.
The facts of the case are as follows: when the new law which regulates the
work of MRTV was written and voted, the people responsible for that simply
forgot to include Kanal 103. After that the Telecommunications governing body
gave a period of 1 year to MRTV to do something about this overlooked issue.
That year has passed, and although MRTV officials claim that they made some
moves nothing really happend.

While following the law is very important, especially for countries such as
Macedonia, many people here are wondering if this is just a legal issue.
After all everybody reasonable agrees that having a radio station like Kanal
103 is a good thing, and that Kanal 103 in particular has great cultural
value for the country. Even MRTV officials agree (at least in public) that it
is very unfortunate that Kanal 103 is dead, at the same time shouting that
they did their best to save the radio. Of course no one thought that it could
be a good idea to change the law and let Kanal 103 live since it obviously is
in the public interest.

Next, the Internet will die. It has been around a year since MARNet
(Macedonian Academic and Research Network) made a decision to set the price
for registering .mk domains to 30’Ǩ. This incredibly stupid decision could in
no way help the growth of the Macedonian Internet. Now in about 20 days
people here will no longer care about the 30’Ǩ, as they will no longer be in
position to afford Internet access (at the moment only 4% of 2 milion
citizens have access to the Internet). The Macedonian Telecom, a privately
owned monopoly, is about to announce its new prices. Although the model of
pricing is changing and it could be usefull for short telephone calls,
estimations say that dial-up Internet prices can go more than 400% up. The
Governmet  can't do much. It does own 45% of the shares, but the real power
(and the 51%) is in the hands of Hungarian Matav which is owned by Deutsche
Telecom. Options such as ADLS are available also through the Macedonian
Telecom, but very few can afford them.

Still private ISPs and pirvate Cable TVs, started an action to offer cable
Internet at least in Skopje and its wider area. But the same
Telecommunications governing body was quick in announcing that cable Internet
is illegal. Again no one thought that maybe it would be good to change the
law, before we blow ourselves into oblivion.

If you miss the dark ages, visit us this summer.


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