REGIONS:

Judges order definitive closure of radio station in Ecuador

(Fundamedios/IFEX) - 9 November 2012 - On 31 October 2012, the Second Tribunal for Criminal, Collusive and Transit cases of the Guayas Court of Justice, confirmed the withdrawal of Radio Morena FM's broadcasting license, in Guayaquil, after declaring that there were no grounds for the appeal presented by the Almorán company, which operates the radio station.

According to the sentence signed by judges Gabriel Manzur Albuja, Juan Paredes Fernández and associate judge Marcos Quimís Villegas, the appeal presented by Julio César Ramón Ruano representing the Almorán company was dismissed for lack of "defenselessness or violation of the rules of due process". The request for precautionary measures against the National Telecommunications Council (CONATEL), the Telecommunications Superintendancy and the General Police Intendant of Guayas was also turned down.

The minister of telecommunications, Jaime Guerrero, stated that CONATEL's decision was based on a report that determined that Morena was not complying with technical regulations. "It is essential to set judicial precedents in the country, so that the radio resources, which belong to Ecuadorian society, are managed fairly, as we are all equal before the law and must observe it", added the minister in a communique by the Telecommunications Ministry.

On 6 July 2012, a squad of approximately 30 policemen cut the signal of Radio Morena FM and took its equipment in a violent operation. Radio Morena was closed down after Judge Melvin Zavala Plaza decided to revoke precautionary measures granted to the station on 22 June 2012, after CONATEL denied the renewal of its frequency on 11 July 2011 in resolution No.RTV-538-14. This led to the immediate closure of the radio station owned by Pastora Morán, mother of congressman for the Patriotic Society, Luis Almeida Morán.

According to CONATEL, the renewal of the station's frequency was not approved because the Almoran company, managers of frequencies 98.1 in Guayaquil, 94.5 in Portoviejo and 98.1 in Santa Elena, did not comply with "the two requirements established by article 9 of the Broadcasting and Television Law and article 20 of the General Regulations, by not operating according to the licensing contract and owing 8 months in rent for the use of the frequency; leading to the application of item a) of article 67 of the Broadcasting and Television Law and the pronouncement of the termination of the license because of the expiration of the contract's time limit".

The station's owner, opposition assembly member Luis Almeida, said that the station had always been up-to-date on its payments and refuted the accusation that the frequency had been used without following the regulations in the licensing agreement. His lawyers plan to present a special appeal for protection to be processed by the Constitutional Court.

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