According to Miguel Mora, the Director of “100% Noticias” (News), “there is a clear willingness to escalate the attacks on press freedom”.
By Maynor Salazar / Franklin Villavicencio (Confidencial)
HAVANA TIMES – “The order of the Nicaraguan Institute of Telecommunications and Postal Services (TELCOR) to broadcast the programming of the government’s Channel 6 on Channel 15, a relay channel of 100% Noticias, has the purpose to besiege and violate freedom of the press,” asserted Miguel Mora, Director and President of this news outlet, who on Monday morning denounced through social networks the directive of this regulatory entity.
“I see this as an act of vindictiveness and a waste of time. They are not doing anything at all, except making a spectacle of themselves. They are going through stages: first the massacre and now is the turn of the media,” expressed Mora on the television program “Esta Noche” (Tonight).
The directive was delivered through a communiqué issued by Telcor—signed by Orlando Castillo, Managing Director of the institution—on Saturday, October 27, and it dictates that “Channel 15 on UHF belongs to the State and is managed by Telcor, it has not been granted to any individual or legal entity. It is the obligation of all subscription television operators to include all national, analog and digital channels in their programming.”
According to Mora, “100% Noticias” does not transmit on the UHF signal and only does so through fiber optic, which is distributed to cable companies in the country.
“No frequency is being used. Cable owners are not rebroadcasting any pirate or illegal signal because we are not using any channel of the air frequency. Our contract is direct and between private persons. We as news producers make a link via fiber optic from our master studio to the different cable companies,” he added.
However, the transmission of “100% Noticias” has not been interrupted at all. In Claro’s analog signal, it remains on Channel 63, while on digital, where it used to be Channel 15, it will be transmitted through another frequency that will “vary” according to the cable operator.
Guillermo Rothschuch Villanueva, writer and communications’ specialist, noted that the decision of the regulatory agency “is of a political nature,” because suddenly they recalled something to “sanction” a channel that has been persistently critical of the Ortega Government’s administration.
“Here there is an impoverishment of the information supply and one of the historical aspiration of many governments is that only their voice be listened to. In most countries of the world, the relationship between the government and the media is contradictory. Governments don’t like being criticized and the job of the media is precisely to monitor, to implement a control function of the Government’s management,” stated Rothschuch Villanueva.
The communication expert assured that the retransmission of Channel 6 on Channel 15 is not what the country needs. He explained that what is desirable for a media outlet is to develop a narrowcast, which is precisely what “100% Noticias” did.
“One of the serious problems we have in Nicaragua’s television is that they continue to provide, for certain people, frequencies to operate with a proposal that no longer meets the demands of Nicaraguans,” said this expert.
On October 21st, the Director of “100% Noticias” received the 2018 Press Freedom Grand Prize, awarded by the Inter-American Press Association (IAPA), to independent journalism in Nicaragua. A recognition for the courage and bravery of Nicaraguan journalists that have been assassinated, persecuted, censored and who continue to be threatened by the regime of Daniel Ortega.
The “rounds” of the paramilitaries
In May, Mora denounced that a “paramilitary” aboard a vehicle that was guarded by three men on motorcycles, fired a shot in front of the facilities of this media outlet and then fled the scene.
The Director of “100% Noticias”, at that moment, held Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo responsible for “any attacks against our co-workers, and the entire leadership of the National Police because it does not provide any security to our physical integrity.”
One of the security guards was the one who observed the white colored vehicle pass in front of the TV station facilities. Immediately, he heard the detonation and informed his superiors on the incident.
Lucia Pineda Ubau, Press Editor of “100% Noticias,” said that since April 18th they have been victims of intimidation and threats and that what happened on Tuesday is part of the pressure they are putting on the media.
“We gave the warning because we have been victims of threats. They have told us that they are going to burn down our installations, threats that they will “bring down” the Channel Director with “plomo” (bullets). We have also suffered direct attacks from governmental media against journalists of the Channel,” said Ubau.
Threats against journalists of “100% Noticias”
As a result of the coverage that Jose Noel Marenco, journalist of “100% Noticias,” made of several university campuses during the months in which the youths were barricaded, his house was besieged and he received threats from paramilitary groups and agents of the National Police.
The threats were sent to him through friends and relatives, who were asked about Marenco’s supposed relationship with the university leaders who remained barricaded during the months of the protests.
“After the coverage of the attack by paramilitaries on UNAN-Managua students, in the Divine Mercy Church, I began to receive harassment, presence of paramilitaries and police officers outside my home, wanting to know what links I had with the students. My testimony served to divulge to the world the attack that happened there and to contrast the Government’s version, which tried to deny that the Church had been attacked and that students had died in it,” stated Marenco.
Marenco had to resign from “100% Noticias” and is currently living in Costa Rica. He regularly covers Nicaraguans who are exiled in the neighboring country of the south.