MIAMI, Florida (February 15, 2011)—The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) today urged the Honduras judiciary to act promptly on an appeal to reverse a decision allegedly violating the Constitution regarding the ownership and broadcast frequency license of a local television channel that the government is currently operating.
In a note sent to the Supreme Court’s Constitutional Division IAPA President Gonzalo Marroquín and the chairman of the organization’s Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, Robert Rivard, called on the courts to rule on the appeal filed earlier this month concerning a decree issued by the legislative branch in which the Honduras government took over the broadcast license of the Canal 8 TV channel, previously awarded to businessman Elías Asfura.
In a 2008 ruling the Honduras Supreme Court itself had awarded the license to Asfura, executive chairman of the Teleunsa company, under which channels 12 and 30 had also been broadcasting. Since then, successive Honduras federal governments applied political pressure for the frequency to be put under the administration of an official channel.
In their note to Justice José Francisco Ruiz Gaekel, head of the Constitutional Division, the IAPA officers expressed concern that the exploitation of Canal 8 by the government “could represent an act of confiscation” and “potential violation of the principles of freedom of the press and the public’s right to information.”
In this regard Marroquín, president of the Guatemala City, Guatemala, newspaper Siglo 21, and Rivard, editor of the San Antonio Express-News, Texas, urged the judiciary to rule “promptly on this matter, in order to prevent any irregularity being able to become an irreversible setback for press freedom.”
The IAPA is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the defense and promotion of freedom of the press and of expression in the Americas. It is made up of more than 1,300 print publications from throughout the Western Hemisphere and is based in Miami, Florida. For more information please go to http://www.sipiapa.org.