State radio and TV system outlines why it is deeply in debt

The state television and radio system is in financial trouble and is urging the legislature to bail it out.

This is the Sistema Nacional de Radio y Televisión, which issued an unusually candid appeal Wednesday.

German Vargas, the executive president, said that the system has to move its transmitter from the peak of Volcán Irazú because of landslides at the active crater.

In addition, the system does not have the funds to pay salaries or the mandatory Christmas bonus.

Vargas said the financial problem was long-standing and that the system owes 12.5 billion colons, about $23.8 million. Each year the system gets about 1.07 billion colons, about $2.03 million from the national budget and raises the balance of its needs, about 70 percent, by selling advertising. Most state agencies are obligated to invest 10 percent of their advertising budget in the system, a statement said.

Because the central government has restricted state advertising, the radio and television system is receiving less. The income from ads has been about a third less since 2009, it said.

If the station does not get the money to move the transmitter, both Canal 13 and Radio Nacional will be off the air for a year until there is a new budget, it warned.

The system is urging quick passage of what is known as the extraordinary budget, additional funding sought by Casa

Presidencial in addition to the main budget.

If the system does not get the funds to pay current expenses, the aguinaldo Christmas bonuses, salaries and the money due to the Caja Costarricense de Seguridad Social, it will have to take extreme measures, it added.

Moving the transmitter was recommended by the Comisión Nacional de Emergencias after an Irazú landslide a year ago. A number of other firms already have moved their transmitters, including Radio Partes S.A., Canal 23, Radio Rumbo, Sinfonola, Prisa Radio, Extra TV, Radio Columbia, Faro del Caribe and Canal 50, said the system.

Radio Nacional broadcast on 101.5 FM. The system Web site has just one advertisement now. It is from the Instituto Costarricense de Turismo.

The system’s problems are similar to those of private enterprise. Companies struggle each year to pay the mandatory Christmas bonus while employees take at least a week’s vacation and there is minimal income. Latin business leaders and those in Spain call this the cuesta de enero, the “January hill” they have to climb next month to restore solvency. sinart121015

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