Assigning of television frequency to Honduran government creates controversy

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  • September 6, 2010

By Ingrid Bachmann

The decision of the Honduran Congress to allocate the frequency of television channel Canal 8 to the government has prompted criticisms, and the owner of Teleunsa -- which currently operates the signal -- has accused President Porfirio Lobo of plotting to take over the station, reported La Prensa and AFP.

The Associated Press and El Heraldo explained that the frequency of Channel 8 was awarded in 2008 to Teleunsa, owned by Elias Asfura. However, the employer failed to use it, because it already was being used by a state television channel put on the air by then-President Manuel Zelaya. Asfour then went to the Supreme Court, which eventually proved him right. Now, however, Congress has reversed the court's decision and issued a decree ordering the signal to be turned over to President Lobo.

The media, the Journalists Guild, and the National Commission of Human Rights have criticized the measure. In an interview with Proceso Digital, the Honduran human rights ombudsman, Ramón Custodio, warned that Congress' action violates freedom of expression.

President Lobo denied that he is threatening any such rights, and ruled out the possibility of any kind of expropriation, added El Tiempo.

According to another article in La Prensa, the president of the National Congress said that the approval or repeal of the decree that stripped Teleunsa of its television signal will be considered Tuesday, Sept. 7.

Note from the editor: This story was originally published by the Knight Center’s blog Journalism in the Americas, the predecessor of LatAm Journalism Review.