San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Plug pulled on critical Nicaraguan TV talk show host

Popular morning talk show host and leading government critic Jaime Arellano confirmed yesterday that Channel 2 TV has canceled his contract to broadcast his daily show, “2 en la Nación.”


Arellano, a former businessman and Conservative Party politician, said that the decision was made by the owners of Channel 2 out of “fear” of reprisal from the government of Daniel Ortega. For the past week, a group of Sandinista protesters has been demonstrating outside Channel 2 offices – a move critics call another pressure tactic by President Ortega, who refers to Arellano as “the fat devil.”


The government-affiliated demonstrators have also taken up protests outside of the offices of the opposition daily newspapers La Prensa and El Nuevo Diario.


Arellano, who was booted from the Sandinista-affiliated Channel 10 earlier this year for criticizing the government, intensified the tone of his show after switching to Channel 2, where he regularly called the Ortega government a “dictatorship” and called on viewers to fight for the country’s institutional democracy. The Sandinistas blamed Arellano for inciting violent protest, though the TV host said his call to action was civic.


Arellano, who earlier this year denounced an alleged plot against his life, says he holds no grudge against the owners of Channel 2, because “each one of us is the owner of his or her own fear.” He also said that Channel 2 is in the process of renewing its broadcasting license from TELCOR, the Sandinista-controlled telecom regulatory agency, and so far hasn’t been able to get a new one, perhaps contributing to the channel’s decision to fire him and make nice with Ortega.


The owners of Channel 2 have not commented on their decision.


Sandinista TV outlet Multinoticias, which has recently denounced Arellano for alleged corruption under the previous government of Enrique Bolaños, is gloating now that Arellano is off the air, calling him a “fat devil thief.”  


Foreign diplomatic sources consulted yesterday by The Nica Times yesterday expressed concern over the direction of press freedom in Nicaragua.


See this Friday’s Nica Times for an exclusive interview with Nicaragua’s former Attorney General Alberto Novoa, who helped launch the country’s war on corruption.

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