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President restricts government advertising in media

(IPYS/IFEX) - On 20 June 2009, President Rafael Correa signed a decree that prevents public entities from entering into advertising contracts with media outlets whose shareholders include companies with capital located in tax havens. According to the daily "Expreso", the president announced this measure after a group of newspapers critical of his administration questioned the existence of government contracts with companies linked to Fabricio Correa, the president's brother.

A large number of media outlets, most of which are critical of the government, will suffer because of this measure, among them the dailies "El Comercio", "El Universo", "La Hora" and "Expreso" and the magazine "Vanguardia". The newspapers did not accuse the president's brother of any crime, but they believed an "ethical conflict" existed.

President Correa later said that the newspaper "Expreso" had acted politically and that the aim of its report was to discredit his government.

FUNDAMEDIOS and IPYS believe that, although the presidential edict is framed within a general decree regulating public transactions with "paper companies" domiciled abroad, the president's express prohibition against paying for government advertising in several print media outlets - announced a short time after the decree was signed - can be seen as a form of reprisal. FUNDAMEDIOS and IPYS view this as a serious threat against press freedom and freedom of expression as it amounts to the use of official advertising to punish those media outlets that scrutinise or criticise the government.

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