Honduran TV channel says de facto govt blocks signal
November 21st, 2009 - 15:29 UTC
by Andy Sennitt.

A Honduran television station that backs deposed President Manuel Zelaya accused the de facto government of interfering with its broadcast signal yesterday, replacing news programmes with cowboy movies. The Honduran media has become a battleground between rival supporters of leftist Zelaya and the de facto government since a 28 June coup plunged the nation into political turmoil.

The director of Canal 36 blamed the programming interruption on de facto leader Roberto Micheletti, who has tightened controls over the media since taking charge of the country after the army ousted Zelaya.

“The Micheletti government is responsible,” Esdras Amado Lopez, the channel’s director told Radio Globo, a pro-Zelaya radio station that was broadcasting as normal. He said the channel’s morning news bulletin had been disrupted by intentional interference with its signal. The channel was showing cowboy films before programming later stopped completely on Friday morning.

A Micheletti spokesman said the government “hadn’t given any order for any media to be blocked or taken off air.”

Last week, US Democratic Representative Jan Schakowsky accused the Micheletti government of disrupting Canal 36’s news shows since the coup in a visit to the TV station. “There has been a complete violation of freedom of the press,” she told reporters.

Mr Micheletti imposed restrictions on opposition media after Mr Zelaya sneaked back into the country in September and sought refuge in the Brazilian Embassy. The curbs were lifted last month following strong international criticism.