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Government tries to discredit journalists and media during television broadcasts

(Fundamedios/IFEX) - 4 May 2011 - A little less than a week before the popular consultation and referendum which was scheduled for 7 May 2011, the Ecuadorian government used a series of national telecasts to try to discredit journalists and the media around the time of the celebration of World Press Freedom Day.

One of the telecasts was broadcast on 2 May, under the slogan "The truth be told". Lasting 9 minutes, it focused on discrediting the way some information is presented by the media, their editorial content, and the business relations of media owners and the resulting conflicts of interest.

A voiceover stated that "the media forget and disregard basic rules and the minimal rigor that is indispensable in the exercise of journalism; a lie that is repeated often may become the truth".

On 3 May, the government dedicated another national telecast that lasted 12 minutes to maligning journalists and the media and questioning their role which, according to the government, is that of "political actors of the opposition".

Two questions about the media are included in the 7 May popular consultation. One of them seeks to limit the possibility that media shareholders and directors may participate in any other economic activities, while the other one presents the possibility of creating a regulatory council that can censor "sexual" or "violent" contents in radio, TV and the written press, as well as imposing criteria of "ulterior responsibility", i.e. applying sanctions to journalists and media outlets.

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