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Journalist's programme interrupted by official telecast

(Fundamedios/IFEX) - On 25 January 2011, the morning program "Desayunos 24 Horas", which is hosted by María Josefa Coronel and broadcast on Teleamazonas TV station, was interrupted by an official announcement. The announcement was aimed at Coronel. It referred to her as "an opposition political actor", and called into question opinions she had expressed on the program one day earlier. This is the second time that the program has suffered such an interruption.

For nearly five minutes, the government telecast, that only interrupted Coronel's program, criticised the fairness and impartiality of the interviewer who, according to the government, did not "want to present a fair debate" on the issue of a referendum.

The government announcer said, "We see how an interview that could have been informative and balanced, instead was lacking in valid arguments and was used to discredit the referendum."

The telecast continued with a video presentation of three people - a teacher, a homemaker and a self-employed individual - who spoke out in support of President Rafael Correa and, at the same time, criticised the Teleamazonas interviewer. One of them asked Coronel to stop lying to the public.

In response to this interruption, Coronel said she will continue to defend her opinion on the referendum. The journalist also reminded the government, in particular Secretary of Communications Fernando Alvarado, that the debates she has been hosting are meant to provide a space for the expression of people's views, and should not be taken as a political attack.

This is the second time, in less than seven days, that the government has used this method of interrupting a television broadcast to criticise the media and in particular Coronel.

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