The Nando Times - Croatian government loses court ruling on censorship

ZAGREB, Croatia (December 27, 1999) - Croatia's highest judicial body ruled Monday that the state-run television station violated the constitution by refusing earlier this month to broadcast two campaign ads.

Croatian television, the only nationwide channel, refused to air two ads of the Voice 99 group, claiming that instead of prompting people simply to vote in the Jan. 3 parliamentary ballot, the group was lobbying for the political opposition. The station is controlled by the ruling party of the late President Franjo Tudjman.

One of Voice 99's ad says: "The most important game of your life is on Jan. 3 - pick up your winning combination." Another is a music video, in which the most popular rock bands call on Croats to "choose a step toward the normal world ... Come on, it's time to move on."

The Constitutional Court ruled that the clips only called on voters to exercise their rights, the state-run news agency HINA reported. The court also said the constitution prohibits censorship and that the ban was against the freedom of thought and expression.

The court's decision obliges the television station to broadcast the ads now.

Voice 99, established a few months ago, is trying to encourage voters to take part in the elections for the lower house of the parliament. In previous elections, sometimes more than 35 percent of voters failed to cast ballots.,2107,500147018-500177341-500706073-0,00.html

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