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TV station's licence cancelled by Ministry of Transport and Communications

(IPYS/IFEX) - On 15 January 2010, the Ministry of Transport and Communications (MTC) cancelled Televisión Oriente's operating license. The TV station used a VHF frequency to operate in the city of Yurimaguas, Loreto region, in northeastern Peru.

This decision was made after the MTC verified, during a technical inspection in 2005, that the TV station had not operated during its first 12 trial months.

Geovanni Acate, a journalist and Radio y Televisión Oriente's director, explained to IPYS that the station started proceedings to obtain a license in the 1990s and that during Alejandro Toledo's government, when the permit was granted, the station did not have the financial resources needed to buy TV broadcasting equipment.

The MTC only issued an authorisation certificate for the radio station's antenna in April 2006, confirming it complied with all legal requisites and allowing it to operate.

In 2007, when the MTC carried out a second inspection, it found that Televisión Oriente, which belongs to Yurimaguas's Apostolic Vicariate, had four authorized antennas with a "good quality signal". Acate added that the TV station is up to date in all its payments to the MTC for TV broadcasting.

Roberto Pereira, a lawyer with the firm Pereira & Associates, who is an expert in freedom of expression related issues, said "it is a clear case of abuse of official control, that constitutes an attack on against freedom of expression. Five years after the MTC verified the alleged lack of compliance with obligations particular to the installation and trial period, it decides to cancel the TV station's licence when it currently operates within all legal requirements. The MTC accuses the station of not complying with legal deadlines when it's the MTC itself that has failed to comply with them. The inspection that should have taken place within the three months that followed the end of the installation and trial period was carried out more than a year later."

Acate believes the measure is an attempt to silence the radio station.

IPYS noted that Acate is facing a legal case for Radio y Televisión Oriente's coverage of the Amazonian communities' protests in May 2009.

IPYS protests against this arbitrary measure and requests that the MTC reconsider the cancellation of the media outlet's license.

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