Nicaraguan TV station facing closure and threats

The Inter American Press Association expressed concern Thursday at the censorship of a television channel in Nicaragua after the cable carrier cut it off, supposedly under pressure from the government. The press advocacy organization called for the immediate reinstatement of service.

The case involves Canal 15 Condega TV, located in the town of Pueblo Nuevo, Condega in the northern province of Estelí. The broadcasts were taken off air Jan. 17 by carrier Telecable de Condega. While the company claimed publicly that its decision was made in response to complaints by a cooperative claiming it was being affected negatively by reports aired on the channel, it later became known that one day before the removal of Canal 15 a fiber optic cable had been cut and a note had been found nearby that read: “We warned you, we didn’t want Canal 15 in Puerto Nuevo.”

According to information provided by Canal 15, the incident clearly shows the kind of intimidation and threats that it has been receiving from local officials belonging to the federal government party. Carlos Cerda Acuña, the channel’s director, said that it occasionally received threats in the past that its headquarters would be bombed if it continued criticizing the government.

Gonzalo Marroquín, editor of the Guatemala City, Guatemala, newspaper Prensa Libre and Inter American Press Association president, said “Apart from whomever is responsible for this censorship, whether it is a supplier or, indirectly, the government, what is clear is that we are witnessing an obvious act against press freedom, a company’s right to its editorial position, and the public’s right to information.”

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