On April 4, the state-owned TV station Gamavision cut the power supply to the transmission equipment of Radio Pichincha Universal.
Several citizen organizations in Ecuador sent a letter on Monday to the United Nations (U.N.) Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression, David Kaye, requesting an inquiry with regards to the disruption of public radio station’s Pichincha Universal signal.
The collectives Espejo Libertario, Community Spokespersons of Quito and Citizen Council 2019, who signed the document, consider that there were violations of several rights of the broadcaster, such as a due motivation, legal security of communication and effective judicial guardianship. They are asking the UN Rapporteur to officially request information from the Ecuadorian government on the facts and motivations, in order to follow up on the case.
On April 4, the state-owned TV station Gamavision cut the power supply to the transmission equipment of Radio Pichincha Universal 95.3FM. The radio station belongs to the provincial government of Pichincha and its prefecture.
A few days prior, during the March 24 midterm elections, Paola Pabon, of former President Rafael Correa’s political party, won the prefecture, a coincidence that has brought up questions of the motivations behind the signal disruption.
“They can not deny the right to information to the audience of Pichincha Universal due to actions of the "directors" of Gamavision - which we already know do not act out of their own mind -. Cutting the signal of a radio is a crime,” Pabon tweeted, adding that the action is clearly a “political retaliation.”
Aquí la evidencia del momento en el que arbitrariamente personal de @Gamavisionecu procede a cortar la señal de @pichinchauniver y dejan fuera del aire, como primer paso para su cierre tras el triunfo de @CompromisoRC5 el pasado 24M! No lo permitiremos!! pic.twitter.com/ee3cot5WYS— Paola Pabón (@PaolaPabonC) April 4, 2019
Here the evidence of the moment in which personnel of Gamavision arbitrarily proceeds to cut the signal of Pichincha Universal pulling it off the air, as a first step to close the station after our political triumph! We will not allow it!
Personnel from the state-owned TV channel disconnected the radio station’s equipment that had been located for years in the same transmission cabin at the top of the capital’s overlooking mountain. Their justification is an allegedly unpaid bill for over seven years due to rent payment and consumption of electric service. However, Pichincha Universal directives maintain that since 2012, Gamavision authorized them to make use of their facilities at no cost.
Meanwhile, on Monday, Judge Enma Ortega dismissed the protection action presented by Pichincha's elected prefect with the purpose of achieving the reconnection of Pichincha Universal. The judge did not agree with the plaintiff's arguments that the action was carried out illegally and unconstitutionally, without a court order or competent administrative authority, violating both the constitutional and legal right to communication and freedom of expression.
Pabon informed they will appeal the court’s decision in a higher instance. Until then the radio station is continuing to operate solely via Facebook live.