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Television journalist critical of the government resigns from his position

(FUNDAMEDIOS/IFEX) - On 27 August 2010, Jorge Ortiz, a journalist for the Teleamazonas network, said a public goodbye to his viewers after his interview and opinion television program, "La Hora de Jorge Ortiz", was taken off the air a month earlier.

Ortiz explained that, because of regulations included in the 2008 Constitution, the television station for which he worked has to be sold and the government has to authorize the sale so that the frequency can be transferred. "It is evident to me, because of the persistence and animosity of the government's attacks against me, that I could be an obstacle that would keep the government from authorizing the sale when the time comes."

In his final message he added that he would meet his audience again "when Ecuadorians live in a democracy once more. That is, when the rule of law and individual guarantees and freedoms are genuinely respected, so that it is possible to disagree, dissent and question without falling victim to insults, threats and persecution, as is currently the case."

On 23 July, Ortiz's program was taken off the air and the journalist announced that he would go on an unscheduled vacation.

Political activist Carlos Verá denounced that the government was demanding the exit of journalists Jorge Ortiz, Carlos Jijón,and Bernardo Abad of Teleamazonas before approving the television station's sale. Fernando Alvarado, the presidency's communications secretary said, "I spoke with two influential individuals at Teleamazonas so that they could refute what Carlos Vera said, because what he said is false. We have never asked or suggested that Carlos Jijón, Jorge Ortiz or Bernardo Abad should leave." However, every sector consulted by FUNDAMEDIOS agrees that the government has to approve the Teleamazonas sale through administrative measures, such as by transferring the station's frequency and the legal operating status to the new company, so that any pressure would be exerted on the buyer and not the seller. Ortiz has been a frequent target of the vilifying treatment of journalists and the media by Ecuador's president and other members of the government.

The Constitution establishes in its transitory clause 29 that: "The ownership interest of the financial sector's legal entities, their legal representatives and board members and shareholders that own equity in the paid capital of social media, should be disposed of within a two year period from the moment this Constitution comes into force."

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