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Vandals cut cables supporting radio station's antenna, station unable to broadcast on AM frequency

(FOPEA /IFEX) - FOPEA condemns the vandalism suffered by LT6 Radio Goya radio station, in Corrientes province, northeastern Argentina, on the morning of 12 January 2009, when unidentified individuals cut the cables that supported the radio station's antenna, causing it to fall. As a result, the station can no longer broadcast on its AM frequency.

The radio station has been operating as a cooperative since 20 journalists and radio announcers took over its ownership ten years ago. Journalist and commentator José Raúl Dittman, who is one of the members of the cooperative, told FOPEA that the individuals responsible for the vandalism knew what they were doing since they cut exactly the right amount of cable to cause the antenna to fall. "Based on the type of cuts made, it is clear that this was a planned attack, done with tools and machines," he said.

A complaint about the vandalism was filed at the Corrientes provincial police's Regional Division 2. Dittman said that several cooperative members filed the complaint, but that they had not received any news about who the attackers may have been.

The station's managers estimate that it would cost approximately 100,000 pesos (approx. US$29,000) to replace the antenna, an amount well beyond what the cooperative can afford to pay. At present, the station's programmes are being broadcast via FM Espléndida radio station, which is also owned by the cooperative. However, the FM station has far less reach than the AM station did. The cooperative is asking for support from the authorities and from the citizens of Goya to try to overcome the situation by using smaller antennas and lower power equipment.

FOPEA, an association of 240 journalists in Argentina, expresses its concern over the actions against LT6 Radio Goya, which constitute an attack on the free expression rights of a media outlet that has a very important social role to play and which have restricted access to information for the Corrientes and northern Santa Fe populations. The organisation calls on the Corrientes authorities to thoroughly investigate the actions against the radio station.

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