Sunday
January 21, 2018

Station remains off the air

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Flagrant attack on newsroom highlights the troubles facing Radio América

Journalists are seen at the newsroom of Tiempo Argentino after it was vandalized on Monday.
Journalists are seen at the newsroom of Tiempo Argentino after it was vandalized on Monday.
Journalists are seen at the newsroom of Tiempo Argentino after it was vandalized on Monday.
By Agustina Larrea
Herald Staff

Workers one of the oldest radio stations in BA also affected by ransacking of offices

The flagrant attack on the offices of the Tiempo Argentino newspaper on Monday — one of the most severe challenges to freedom of expression since the return of democracy — was also intended to intimidate the workers of Radio América, the station that’s also part of Grupo 23 which is located in the same building. For its staff, it’s the latest in a long list of challenges.

Journalists, producers, radio announcers and other workers have been keeping the Grupo 23 radio station on air since former owners Sergio Szpolski and Matías Garfunkel as well as Mariano Martínez Rojas — the businessman that led this week’s raid and claims having bought both the newspaper and the radio — stopped paying wages in January.

“We were neglected, left in a kind of limbo but the government should react immediately as the radio frequencies belong to the state,” journalist Federico Nadersohn told the Herald.

Nadersohn was one of the workers from the radio station who decided to remain and sleep over in the Aménabar street building together with some of his colleagues after the brutal attack.

“This government claims they were elected to stop impunity but we see the behaviour of businessmen as Martínez Rojas and we can’t believe what they say,” he added.

BACK AND FORTH

In January, when Szpolski — who last year ran as the Victory Front (FpV) mayoral candidate in Tigre — is said to have sold the Grupo 23 media outlets to Martínez Rojas’ Grupo M Deluxe, a company with no previous ly known interest in media, the workers tried to reach an agreement with the businessman and held meetings with him.

At that moment, he promised them he would pay their salaries as soon as he could. But he broke the agreements and never paid. According to the workers, he signed up to seven agreements in different meetings held between the two parties at the Labour Ministry but never fulfilled them. And when the Ministry requested he produce documents proving he was the new owner of the radio station, he couldn’t do so.

In the meantime, the workers kept going to the workplace and kept to their scheduled hours. After more than a month of uncertainty, they decided to broadcast two programmes daily on the AM 1190 frequency.

“With this we wanted to give visibility to the conflict and not get rusty, as we are all profesionals who like our jobs,” Nadersohn explained.

This decision infuriated Martínez Rojas, who seems to have decided to intimidate the workers, first by going to the radio station accompanied by thugs and later by seizing the radio’s broadcasting antenna and taking the station off the air, which he did on June 11, again surrounded by goons.

Since then, the radio has been on air only by online streaming at www.1190america.com and although, after the attack on the building the gang disconected telephones and internet cables, the employees keep broadcasting their programmes.

“We are being constantly stigmatized by Martínez Rojas, who says always we are political activists. We are workers defending our jobs,” claimed Nadersohn.

ENACOM’S ROLE

The ENACOM, which took over the roles of the AFSCA media watchdog and the AFTIC telecommunications agency, was created by Mauricio Macri’s administration via an emergency decree in a move aimed at killing off the 2009 Broadcast Media Law.

Radio América workers say that in the last months they held meetings with ENACOM president Miguel De Godoy, who told them that Martínez Rojas couldn’t prove he was the actual owner of Radio América — but also that the businessmen couldn’t be considered an usurper.

Radio América is one of the oldest radio stations in Buenos Aires. It started its transmissions known as “Radio Fenix” in the 1930s and later as “Radio Antártida” until 1982, when it adopted its current name. Renowned and prestigious journalists and radio announcers such as Carlos Ulanovsky, Jorge Guinzburg and Adolfo Castelo, among others, have been part of the station during its extense history.

@tinalarrea

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