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MINSK -- A Belarusian state television channel has suspended broadcasts of the Euronews channel, RFE/RL's Belarus Service reports.

The Minsk-based television channel MTIS ended the Euronews broadcasts on January 1, replacing them with programming from the Russian movie channel NTV-Plus Kino+.

MTIS told the Interfax news agency that the decision to drop Euronews was temporary and made due to an increase in the broadcasting fees being charged by Euronews's owners.

It said negotiations between MTIS and Euronews are taking place and should be resolved by February.

The pan-European channel Euronews has been the only independent international news source available on state-controlled Belarusian TV.

On December 20, the channel reported claims by the Ukraine-based Femen group about an attack on its activists shortly after a protest in front of the Belarusian KGB building.

In April, following Euronews coverage of the Arab Spring protests in the Middle East, President Alyaksandr Lukashenka called the channel "a weapon in the hands of bandits."

Independent Belarusian television expert Leonid Mindlin told RFE/RL that Euronews is "a window into the world" for its audience, which he said was some 15 percent of the Belarusian viewers.

Mindlin said it is not known if Euronews was dropped for political or financial reasons.

He maintained that Belarusians can still access it and other independent TV stations via satellite or Internet.

Mindlin added that another Minsk cable television operator, Cosmos TV, continues to broadcast Euronews but has limited access across the country.

Read more in Belarusian here
The International Federation oOf Journalists (IFJ), says more than 100 journalists or other media staff were killed in 2011 – an increase in comparison with 2010.

According to the IFJ, violence against the media was worst in 2011 in Pakistan, Iraq and Mexico, with 11 media deaths reported in each country.

The organizaton says a total of 106 journalists were killed in 2011, compared with 94 in 2010.

It said that 20 more journalists or other media staff died in accidents and natural disasters in 2011.

The IFJ has appealed to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to lead an effort to better protect journalists, saying many governments around the world “are in denial or indifferent to what has become a regular pattern of targeted killings of journalists.”

The IFJ says it represents more than 600,000 journalists in more than 100 countries around the world.

compiled from agency reports

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"Watchdog" is a blog with a singular mission -- to monitor the latest developments concerning human rights, civil society, and press freedom. We'll pay particular attention to reports concerning countries in RFE/RL's broadcast region.

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