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Radio and TV station's antenna vandalised, knocked down

(FOPEA/IFEX) - On the night of 3 October 2011, unidentified individuals vandalised an antenna belonging to the broadcaster Norte Visión Satelital, knocking it down. The incident took place on a hill near the capital city of the province of Salta. While falling, the antenna dragged down several antennas from other media outlets as well, causing 15 stations to go off the air, including Canal 10 and FM Atlántida 93.5, which are also owned by Norte Visión.

The Norte Visión facilities at the same location were previously attacked on 15 September, when someone set fire to the broadcast cabin. As a result of that incident, the media outlet's stations went off the air for four hours. In addition, in June, nearly two kilometres of fibre optic cables were removed from Norte Visión's facilities.

Daniel Longarela, the owner of Norte Visión, told FOPEA that, in the 3 October incident, six of the cables that held the media outlet's antenna up were intentionally cut. The Salta provincial police confirmed that this was the case. Longarela also said the media outlet had fulfilled all the technical requirements for the antenna's installation and, as such, could not have accidentally fallen over. Canal 10 and FM Atlántida 93.5 are expected to remain off the air for about 15 days.

Longarela said he is afraid and very concerned over the incident, especially as it is part of a series of attacks that are becoming more serious in nature over time. He said he is unable to attribute the attacks to anyone in particular. He filed a report about the incident with the police, and the Public Prosecutor's Office immediately opened an investigation. A representative of the Government of Salta's Press and Publications Division said they will speed up plans that were in place to construct a fence around the area where the attack took place, in which the antennas of several media outlets are located. They will also install a security checkpoint in the area.

FOPEA calls on the authorities to conduct a prompt and thorough investigation to identify and bring to justice those behind the attacks on Norte Visión, which it views as a serious violation of freedom of expression.

(Please note this is an abbreviated translation.)

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