Closing inconvenient broadcasters by claiming that their licence has expired is a typical vice of authoritarian regimes. Which, in the most perfidious guises, do not respond to broadcasters or do not issue a receipt even if the publisher delivers the application in person (this happened in Nicaragua to the bishop Rolando José Álvarez, we reported on it here). But in a democratic state, gagging stations is a little more difficult. As the recent case of Nigeria shows: last week, the chairman of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) had given 53 radio and television stations 24 hours to pay the fee or else be suspended from broadcasting.
An appeal was immediately lodged against the article in the regulation that NBC wanted to use to revoke the licences (claiming that it is unconstitutional and illegal, as it violates freedom of expression), and also against President Muhammadu Buhari. In defence of the broadcasters, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), a non-governmental organisation that protects economic and social rights in Nigeria, and the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) have come to the defence. Justice was swift: on 29 August, Judge Akintayo Aluko of the Federal High Court in Lagos issued an interim orderpreventing the revocation of the licences and adjourned the case until 8 September 2022.
The Central American country is one of the most dangerous in the world for journalists: an estimated 200 have been murdered in the last 30 years, not counting hundreds of attacks and intimidation. To defend them, and to prevent attacks on them and the media from going unpunished, thirteen Mexican media groups have formed an alliance. Its members are: El Universal, Proceso, Cámara Nacional de la Industria de la Radiodifusión (CIRT), Eje Central, El Heraldo, Organización Editorial Mexicana (OEM), La Silla Rota, Publimetro, El Dictamen, Politico Mx, Vanguardia Mx, El Economista y Debate. The association (Alianza de Medios Mx) not only defends, promotes and protects the rights of freedom of expression, but also offers support to file complaints on freedom of expression and requests assistance in case of attacks.
The Nicaraguan radio station’s medium wave transmission antennas have been sabotaged again on July 12th, 2020. With 25 kW of power their broadcasts are receivable in a large part of the Central American country. Some cables taking the signal to the antenna were cut, thus damaging the transmitter and interrupting the service. The radio station is continuing on 97.5 MHzFM (with 1 kW and limited coverage) as well as on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. According to the technicians, repair work could take four months.
On examining where the material had been removed, the radio station’s technicians suspect that the thieves knew exactly how the antennas worked. A political motive is also suspected. Radio Corporación is the top radio station in the country and has continuously broadcast civil protests against the authoritarian regime of President Daniel Ortega.