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Argentina9 March 2007

Political motivation suspected in removal of programme by Santa Cruz provincial radio station

Reporters Without Borders voiced concern today that the decision by LU14 Radio Provincia, a public radio station in the southern province of Santa Cruz, to eliminate the programme “La Ronda” on 5 March, which follows the removal of another programme by the same station in July, was taken as a result of pressure from the provincial government.

“Five programmes were eliminated by public and privately-owned broadcast media - local and national - in 2006 under direct pressure from the authorities,” the press freedom organisation said. “The reasons given by LU14 Radio Provincia’s management for eliminating ‘La Ronda’ unfortunately indicate that it was an act of censorship. The overall climate between the press and the government has deteriorated sufficiently for this kind of incident to recur. The Santa Cruz provincial government should explain itself. A public media is not supposed to take orders.”

“La Ronda” was a children’s programme that went out from noon until 2 p.m. on Sundays. During a recent broadcast, host Marta Savorido, who is also a teacher, invited the provincial government to pay more attention to her fellow teachers’ wage demands. When the station’s management announced the programme’s removal on 5 March, it said this type of comment should not be made “on a public radio station.”

During a subsequent debate on privately-owned Tiempo FM, Savorido said her comment was “a plea, a request addressed to the government to heed the demands coming from the teachers.” She claimed the order to terminate the programme she had been hosting for the past 14 years came directly from the Santa Cruz government and was because of her comment.

Primary and secondary school teachers in the region went on strike on 6 March. Savorido said she had just wanted to “inform the children, who are directly affected, about the situation of the teachers” and denied “talking politics in front of the children.” The regional daily Tempo Sur quoted her as saying the programme should be targeted at “aware and responsible citizens.”

The programme “Voces de mi Tierra” was withdrawn from LU14 and LRA 59 in July 2006 after it included a report by Pablo Lagalle on the public health risks from mining. Lagalle told Reporters Without Borders at the time that the decision was taken at the request of a municipal councillor.

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