LA PAZ – The Bolivian government announced on Monday that it will postpone the expiration date of licenses for radio stations and television channels after media owners warned they could possibly lose their permits due to a decree that made their renewal process extremely difficult.
The media were informed of the decision by Vice President Alvaro Garcia Linera following a meeting that President Evo Morales held with representatives of the Asbora broadcasters association and executives from television networks.
Garcia Linera said that after hearing the concerns of media owners, it was decided to cancel the new regulations on license renewals established last month.
“We are extending for three months the valid licenses that absolutely all the media possess. The expiration of their licenses that began this month is suspended,” the vice president said. “They can keep operating and planning their investments without any problem.”
He added that radio and television outlets will be able to renew their licenses in 2019 for a period of 15 years with no need for a public bidding process, as long as they comply with the “content requirement established by law.”
In March, Asbora representatives warned about the possible closure of 500 radio stations due to the complications of renewing their licenses caused by the decree regulating the Telecommunications Law.
Garcia Linera said the government then realized that “this could be the beginning of a period of job instability” for media workers and of “economic instability” for media owners, who would not be able to make investments for the future due to their uncertainty about being granted the frequencies applied for.
The president of Asbora, Alfonso Arevalo, for his part thanked the government for hearing the concerns and proposals of the sector and said “the country has won,” since now “there are sources of jobs and there are radio and television networks that will remain on the air.”