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PRESIDENT PROMISES TO ELIMINATE BARRIERS FOR COMMUNITY MEDIA

Nicaragua's president has agreed to waive licence fees for community-based and other small media and to allocate government advertising contracts equitably, reports the World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters (AMARC).

On the Day of the Journalist, 1 March, President Daniel Ortega signed an agreement with the Journalists' College (Colegio de Periodistas) to waive the US$2,000 broadcast licence renewal fees for "small and community media outlets".

In the same agreement, which was drafted with the help of journalist labour organisations, he committed to ensuring "the just distribution of government advertising contracts" to benefit small and medium-sized radio stations, television programmes and national electronic media.

AMARC applauded the gesture as helping to end an indirect form of censorship, "considering how frequently official advertising contracts are used to reward or punish media throughout Latin America."

The agreement also stipulates that 20 percent of contributions made by journalists to government social welfare schemes should be channelled into a special fund to be used to provide health care, emergency support and pensions to members of the Journalists' College. The fund may amount to as much as US$160,000.

For more details, see AMARC: http://tinyurl.com/2qkjq7

(27 March 2007)

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