Radio Bálsamo Censored
“SIGET ordered that transmissions from 90.5 FM be shut down due to legal proceedings against the community radio station”
December 2, 2009
Radio Bálsamo has been off the air since this past Friday, November 27. The Salvadoran Department of Electricity and Telecommunications (SIGET) ordered that transmissions from 90.5 FM be shut down due to legal proceedings against the community radio station located in the La Libertad department.
The complainant, Rubén González, who was awarded the right to use the 90.5 FM frequency in the Zaragoza zone, signed a contract with the legal representatives of Radio Bálsamo in 2005, “authorizing them to transmit for ten years over said frequency. However, this same person gave the [right to use] the frequency to a local religious sect this year, and discredited [Radio Bálsamo] before the SIGET,” said Geovani Montalvo, a journalist with the radio.
Since then, the radio has been accused of misuse of the frequency, because according to the plaintiffs, Radio Bálsamo is not authorized to transmit on said frequency.
The Radio Bálsamo collective has manifested its concern regarding this situation and states that “to resolve the situation, those of us who are obligated to participate are those who were signers of the legal agreement—that is, Radio Bálsamo’s legal representation and Ruben Gonzalez, who has ceded the right to use the frequency to another group.”
The Union of Journalists of El Salvador (SINPESS) expressed its concern over the temporary closure of this alternative news outlet and points out that this is the first case in the SIGET has brought against a news outlet during the current administration. For this reason, it requests public explanations from the authorities.
The Latin American Association of Radiophonic Education (ALER) has expressed its concern regarding the news and laments “legal problems are depriving the towns of the accompaniment that Radio Bálsamo offered them with its regular transmissions.” Likewise, it is confident that “the pertinent authorities will promptly facilitate a solution to the problem and that Radio Bálsamo will once again transmit its regular programming.”
For its part, the Roque Dalton Collective of Communicators and Students (CERD) believes that the issue of the closure of the radio “is more than just a legal conflict. The closure is a right denied to a population that demands information as a public asset, information that serves to transform the people.”
Festival in Solidarity with Radio Bálsamo
Faced with the deprivation of its right to freedom of expression and information, the radio has moved its transmission equipment outside of the radio station’s building in Zaragoza, where it has improvised a radio booth in the open air and tries to maintain its listeners’ right to be informed.
Associations, committees, social movements, and community members have spoken out to promote public discussion and to pressure the responsible authorities to resolve the situation as quickly as possible. For that reason, an Artistic Festival in Solidarity with Radio Bálsamo has been organized. It will take place this Saturday, December 5, beginning at 1pm in front of the Radio’s building in Zaragoza.
“At this time we have confirmed the participation of the Andean music group Pueblos Libres. We know that others will also step up,” they said on Radio Bálsamo. The goal of this activity is to get the word out to as many media outlets as the law permits, and to let the people’s interests be known. “It’s about the struggle for the democratization of the word,” they said. Likewise, it is expected that the festival will be transmitted over the ARPAS Association’s signal.
Translation by Kristin Bricker
Lea Ud. el Artículo en Español
Narco News is funded by your contributions to The Fund for Authentic Journalism.
Please make journalism like this possible by going to The Fund's web site
and making a contribution today.
- The Fund for Authentic Journalism
For more Narco News, click here.