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President calls for television station's definitive closure

(IPYS/IFEX) - On 29 August 2009, President Rafael Correa requested that a new process be opened against TV station Teleamazonas so that it may be "definitively closed down", after it broadcast an audio recording where a socialist party congress member is heard talking with the president, expressing her concern over certain changes in the Constitution's final version.

The recording was broadcast through the TV station by Fernando Balda, former leader of the government party and current member of Sociedad Patriótica (SP), which opposes the government.

Correa said that the recording is "clandestine", and that therefore the station violated the Broadcasting Law's Regulations by broadcasting it. Item h) of the regulations states that "reproducing videos and/or tape recordings that are clandestine and/or have not been authorized by those who are involved or appear in the video or recording, so that their right to privacy and their honor, as established by the Constitution, are affected" is considered a technical violation.

Correa stated that "you cannot surreptitiously record a conversation, it's even worse if it includes the president in his office; this undermines national security". The president requested that the TV station be sanctioned for the fourth time.

Teleamazonas, on the other hand, denies having infringed the law. Carlos Jijón, the station's news director, stated that Correa "has no legal power to order the closure of a TV station". He also noted that the clandestine recording broadcast by Teleamazonas "does not affect the integrity of any of the people" who are heard in the recording, and pointed out that what can be heard is a conversation between the president, ministers and members of congress.

The Communications Secretary General, Fernando Alvarado, believes, however, that "Teleamazonas may be fined for that violation, but not closed down". He explained that the station committed administrative offences that only merit a sanction.

On 5 September, Correa stated that he will request a suspension of 90 days against Teleamazonas because it committed an administrative offence.

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