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Court revokes imposition of fines on "Veja" and "Folha de São Paulo" for pre-election period interview with candidate

(ABRAJI/IFEX) - According to the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas, at least fourteen media outlets have been fined in 2008 by the electoral courts for publishing interviews with those seeking office in the upcoming municipal elections, scheduled for October, or in some cases, even just their photographs ( http://knightcenter2.communication.utexas.edu/?q=pt-br/blog ). Electoral judges deemed that the media outlets and the politicians were carrying out election advertising before 6 July 2008, the official starting date of the campaign.

One of the most well-known cases concerned fines against "Veja" magazine and "Folha de S. Paulo", Brazil's largest-circulation newspaper. Each media outlet was fined R$21,282 (approx. US$13,218), for publishing interviews with mayoral candidate Marta Suplicy (Workers' Party, PT). Suplicy was fined R$42,564 (approx. US$ 26,437).

In a press release issued when the fines were imposed, ABRAJI condemned them, saying they constituted a threat to press freedom and noting that there was no law prohibiting newspapers from publishing interviews with individuals seeking election. According to ABRAJI, the interviews did not constitute electoral propaganda.

On 26 June, the Superior Electoral Court (Tribunal Superior Electoral, TSE) amended Article 24 which prevented electoral candidates from providing information on their platforms prior to the official start of the campaign. The court also created another article, permitting candidates to give interviews prior to 6 July.

On 9 July, the fines against "Veja", "Folha de S. Paulo", and Suplicy were dropped after another court overthrew the ruling against them.

Updates the "Veja" and "Folha de São Paulo" case arising from the publication of the Suplicy interview: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/95139

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