(AMARC/IFEX) - In early January 2000, Federal Judge Jose Marcos Lunadelli ordered the closure of 2,000 community radio stations in the state of Sao Paulo, to take effect by 6 February. In a decision made days later, the same judge announced that radio stations which refuse to close their doors will have to pay a fine of $2,500 (US) per day.
In his decision to close the stations, the judge took into account the argument made by the Sao Paulo Radio and Television Broadcast Association (Asociacion de las Emisoras de Radio y Television del Estado de Sao Paulo, AERTBA). According to the Association, the community radio stations interfered with airplane flights in the zone. However, the Aeronautical group captain, Ricardo Nogueria, of the Regional Flight Protection Service of Sao Paulo (Servicio Regional de Proteccion de Vuelos), refuted the possibility that the radio stations could affect the flights.
The Forum for Democratic Communication (Foro Democracia en la Comunicacion), which unites 900 community broadcasters, announced it will appeal the closure decision, under the grounds that it is unconstitutional.
The Professional Journalists' Union in the state of Sao Paulo (Sindicato de Periodistas Profesionales), through Director of Culture and Communication Amilton Viera, pronounced itself against the judge's decision. The Union published a communiqué renouncing the order to close the community radio stations.
President of the Union of Federal Police Delegates of Sao Paulo Armando Coelho Neto expressed his support for the Brazilian community radio stations. He said he sympathized greatly with the struggle of the broadcasters. The Union will be in charge of closing all the community radio stations when the provision of the judge is carried out. However, Coelho said that his opinion in favour of the community radio stations is personal and does not implicate the Federal Police.
President of the Brazilian Association of Community Radio Stations Jose Soter also announced that he will begin a judicial process to cancel the judge's decision.
Community radio supporters joined forces on 22 January, when some sixteen Brazilian organisations which coordinate and represent community radio organised a roundtable to mobilize for action. They planned a major communications and advocacy campaign to "fight one of the worst infractions against freedom of expression in Brazil".
The meeting brought together the following organisations: Forum for Democratic Communication, ABRACO-SP (Brazilian Community Radio Association), ANCARC (National Catholic Community Radio Association), APERLOC (Paulista Local Community Radiobroadcasting Association), the Sao Paulo Journalists Union, Network Radio Popolare (Milan), Deputy Carlos Zaratini (president of the Communication Commission of the XXI Century Forum of the Sao Paulo Legislative Assembly), SINERC (Community Radio and Television Union), the ABC Community Radio Council, Associação Escola e Rádio Acadêmica (Sertãozinho), ARERC, Conselho Sul Paulista, Cancioneiro Duvalle (Barretos), Rádio Heliopolis, Radio Ação FM, and Radio Nova Emoção FM.
Send appeals to authorities:
- protesting the decision to close the stations, and the subsequent decision to fine the stations that refuse to close
- denouncing the situation in Brazil, which is in clear violation of the right to freedom of expression
Send appeals to all who support the movement to democratise communications and enable a more pluralistic society to express solidarity with the community radio stations in the state of Sao Paulo, Brazil
Jose Marcos Lunadelli
Please copy appeals to the source if possible.
AMARC's source: Ana Luisa Zaniboni, OBORE, a national grassroots radio production centre in Brazil, tel: +55 11 214 3766, e-mail: email@example.com