Ecuador's Telecommunication Control and Regulation Agency initiated a sanctioning administrative case against public radio Pichincha Universal ordering the station to shut down and suspend its activities immediately.
Ecuador: Public Radio Pulled Off Air For Reporting on Anti-Gov’t Protests
“What this means is censorship. They seized the radio signal and force us to use the programming from the government’s public radio, without the possibility of transmitting our own programming. They restrict the right to free speech, they restrict the right to information,” Prefect of Pichincha Paola Pabon of former President Rafael Correa’s political party, tweeted.
The process began after the Secretariat of Communication of the Presidency delivered a notification on Wednesday morning to impede regular transmission and to order that the signal be replaced by the central government's Public Radio FM.
This comes a day after police confiscated the radio’s transmitting equipment with a warrant, as the state’s prosecutors claim the radio broke the law by “inciting unrest,” thus violating art. 348 of the Criminal Code.
The popular radio station also informed they have received information that Ecuador’s government has issued a detention warrant against their director Washington Yepez. The station has played a leading role in covering the ongoing protests against IMF austerity, which were imposed by President Lenin Moreno.
Since Monday night, the FM radio denounced its frequency presented multiple disruptions in different parts of the city. Reports from listeners ensured that the tuning of the 95.3FM signal registered interference.
Wednesday afternoon a sanctioning administrative process was initiated against Pichincha Communications EP to request the suspension of its activities immediately.
The radio station belongs to the provincial government of Pichincha and its prefecture. On March 24 midterm elections, Pabon won the prefecture making her local government opposition to Moreno, which has brought up questions of the motivations behind closing down the radio.
Over the last seven days, massive protests have erupted across the country to protest against the neoliberal economic measures announced by Moreno last week. Pichincha Universal has been reporting the incidents on the ground, especially police repression against thousands of protesters that reached Quito on Monday.
The Ecuadorean government is implementing such policies to comply with conditions from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), an institution that will lend US$4.2 billion to this Andean country.
"What the government did is give a prize to the country's big banks and capitalists and, at the same time, a great punishment to the poor," the Workers' United Front (FUT) president Mesias Tatamuez said.
On Tuesday night, Moreno's administration publicly admitted it had accepted the mediation of the United Nations, the Catholic Church, and university authorities to establish an immediate dialogue with Indigenous organizations.
Meanwhile, the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (Conaie) denied any dialogue began with the government, despite Vice President Otto Sonnenholzner saying so on national television.