Responses to the Coup d'etat in Honduras on Sunday June 28, with special emphasis on producing English-language versions of commentaries by Honduran scholars and editorial writers and addressing the confusion encouraged by lack of basic knowledge about Honduras.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Channel 11, Channel 36, Radio Globo, CableColor, and El Tiempo attacked

The de facto regime in Honduras believes in intimidation, and practices it daily against its critics. Ask Father Tamayo about it. If no one carried the message of the resistance, then their media shield would be intact, and only their messages would be broadcast.

Yesterday they made a move to take almost all of the resistance off the air. The public prosecutor, CONATEL, and hooded police invaded the facilities of Cable Color and Channel 11 in San Pedro Sula on Friday. The focus of their "investigation" was the internet service and satellite uplink service Cable Color provides to its subscribers, which includes the internet broadcasts of Channel 36 and Radio Globo, among others. They also challenged Cable Color's offering of VOIP service for international calling.

At the same time that the studios were being raided, the transmitter site of Channel 11 was also being raided, with the intent of stopping the satellite uplink. They were ordered to shut down their VOIP, internet, and satellite service.

The police wanted to confiscate their equipment. However, they left with only a few customer contracts to review. It seems the Frente de Resistencia was nearby, marching in the Torocagua zone, and surrounded the transmitter site, pelting the CONTATEL employees who were trying to disrupt the satellite uplink with bags of water. They also surrounded the studios of Channel 11 and Cable Color.

Channel 11 owns Cable Color, and Channel 11, in turn, is part of the Continental Group, owned by the Rosenthal family.

Channel 36 reported in their on-air news that the temporary suspensions of their broadcast signal in various parts of the country was because of interference with the satellite uplink that links them to their dispersed transmitters. Channel 36 blames pirates hired by the Micheletti government for the outages.

El Tiempo, yesterday, reported that electrical surges thursday night eventually fried the motor control panels on their printing press in San Pedro Sula, rendering them unable to publish for the first time since the 1980s. They indicated that initially ENEE, the electrical company, responded when a surge blew out fuses on their power feed to the building at 8:35 pm thursday night just as the press was preparing to start the run for Friday's paper. ENEE employees arrived about 20 minutes after being called and replaced the fuses on the power pole outside the printing plant. At 9 pm. just after the presses started printing the Friday edition, a bar fuse on another pole caught fire and began smoking. ENEE was again called, and this time refused to replace the smoking device claiming it was Tiempo's and they weren't authorized to replace it, and "maybe it would hold out; Tomorrow someone will have to change it." At midnight a call to ENEE was met with instructions to call the head of the company and get him to order a repair, or wait for it to be repaired on Friday. Finally a third call yielded a repair team who fixed the problem and restored power. At that point Tiempo found out that the partial outage due to the bar fuse problem had damaged the panels that controlled the motors on the printing press, ruining any chance of printing Friday's paper. You might think that this is just the typical bad electricity ENEE provides in Honduras, and that might be so, but this kind of electrical surge was a tactic used in the 1970s and 1980s to take out Tiempo's printing press during the military dictatorships. Tiempo considers it suspicious.

Two Honduran human rights organizations, Ciprodeh and CODEH, took statements and opened investigations into what happened at Cable Color and Channel 11.


phoenixwoman said...

A couple of things: first, the water balloon threat to the official vandals tearing down the Channel 11 antenna may be overstated. I watched Channel 36 as they tore down the antenna, which looked to me as if they were on the roof (where one might expect them) and there were no water balloons. In fact, the resistance showed up only well after the assault on Cable Color had begun.

Second, the fact that Tiempo and CableColor are properties of the Rosenthal family may be significant. There was a report earlier that the coupistas were trying to tie the Rosenthal son to the "gray traffic" pseudo-scandal.

Third, the full cynicism of the authorities trying to allege "gray traffic" for VOIP may not be obvious. CableColor takes in signals over cable and telephone lines and distributes them by cable, telephone, and satellite for several purposes: (1) Internet, (2) TV, (3) telephony, and (4) VOIP. VOIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) is vastly more efficient (for shared lines) than conventional telephony, because it allows all the gaps in conversations to be redistributed for use by other conversations.

Evidently Conatel does not understand the difference between "the Internet" and "telephony." La Tribuna claims they were just doing "inspections" on why they weren't carrying certain channels. Yeah, and you need masked men and taking down antennas to do inspections. La Prensa has a clearer explanation. They list two allegations, with one allegation having to do with whether VOIP is telephony. But of course VOIP is not telephony as generally defined, because the signal is measured in bytes rather than seconds. The brouhaha over "gray traffic" has to do with conventional telephony, and switching it onto certain lines to make the calls "international." With the Internet, the system is infinitely interconnected, so whether a call transits a foreign country is not under the control of a network operator.

So Conatel doesn't understand telephony as well as I do, which is not much, but enough to know that this explanation for taking down antennas and masked men does not wash.

--Charles of MercuryRising

TITO said...

First, just one minor correction, the raid was not in San Pedro Sula, but Tegucigalpa (2nd paragraph).

It´s interesting to see how the economic powers battle over their interest, without hiding themselves, once they seized complete control over the executive branch.

There are multiple interest behind this attack to freedom of press and speech besides those mentioned in your blog entrie.

1. Channel 12 is own by Rosenthal, but Asfura has fought that frequency during the Zelaya administration. CONATEL, run then by Razel Tomé, ruled based on technical analysis in favor of Rosenthal. On the other hand, Asfura challenged the ruling in a court and won. CONATEL argued the court's ruling was not possible to accomplish because of technical issues. Esta es una espinita clavada!

2. AMNET, previously owned by Rafael Ferrari and absorbed by TIGO/Celtel, offers exactly the same services than Cable Color (CableTV, VOIP/Local/International, Internet, Data). No woder why the golpistas wanted to shut the "VozIP" service. A fight for monopoly!

Keep the good work! Saludos