DominicanToday.com - Human Rights campaigners and community leaders demonstrated outside Dominican Telecommunications Institute headquarters (Indotel) yesterday, in protest against the closure of Channel 53, Cibao TV Club.
The protesters held up placards attributing the measure to reprisals against the “strong criticisms” and insults to the president and government officials, made by Dr. Ernesto Fadul, producer of the show "En Salud".
Indotel officials spoke to Dominican Human Rights Committee president Virgilio Almánzar and Manuel Montás from the Toy Jarto movement, who represented the demonstrators. Indotel’s legal sub-director Cossette Morales told them that channel director Víctor Tejada had been notified about the deadline established by law before taking the precautionary measure in response to the illegal use of two open circuit frequencies, when the channel is only authorized to operate on an open circuit or to transmit via cable.
She stated that the channel could continue to broadcast via cable, but not on the two frequencies it was using illegally, which according to Indotel could interfere with frequencies used for flight navigation.
News Update April 1st:
PARIS – Dominican authorities had no right to force a television station off the air after the outlet broadcast what were arguably defamatory remarks about government officials, Reporters Without Borders said on Wednesday.
The press freedom watchdog, which is known by the French initials RSF, said the Indotel regulatory agency ordered the Cibao TV Club station to cease operations on March 25, citing the outlet’s allegedly illegal use of two broadcast frequencies.
But the order followed the station’s airing of a program in which Ernesto Fadul, brother of Dominican Industry and Commerce Minister Ramon Fadul, described President Leonel Fernandez’s aides and other officials as “thieves” and “protectors of drug traffickers.”
Indotel says that while it told Cibao TV Club, based in the northern city of Santiago, to stop using the broadcast frequencies, the station was free to continue operating via cable.
RSF, however, noted that station owner Victor Tejeda claims Indotel seized Cibao TV Club’s equipment, making it impossible for the station to operate.
“Certain government officials may rightly consider themselves to have been defamed by Ernesto Fadul’s comments. But in that case, they should bring a lawsuit and seek payment of damages,” RSF said. “Indotel has every right to stop a TV station using frequencies illegally, but it has no right to seize the station’s own equipment and thereby force it off the air altogether.”
source: Latin American Herald Tribune