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Minister confirms that high ranking officials shall not grant interviews to private media

(Fundamedios/IFEX) - On Tuesday 12 June 2012, the Policy Coordinating Minister, Betty Tola, officially announced that members of the presidential cabinet shall not grant interviews to the private media after President Correa mentioned this in his last Saturday program.

Tola made this announcement during a press conference. When asked by a journalist if they would grant interviews to the private media, the official responded:
“No, not to any of them. We have a well-defined position in this regard”, she stated.

The official said that there has been no meeting of the cabinet, however, she said "as ministers we need to prioritize our relationship with the public media... part of our task in this government has been precisely to insist before the Ecuadorian public on the need to democratize information. We are going to continue following that line, because we are interested in strengthening the public and community media”, she insisted.

The officials' decision was enforced for the first time when José Serrano, Minister of the Interior, cancelled an interview with Ecuavisa. He did grant an interview, however, to radio station Democracia.

After the radio interview, Serrano justified not having gone to the TV station by saying “we are accountable to and have to inform the citizens, there is no reason why we should be accountable to Mr. (Alfredo) Pinargote”, (presenter of Ecuavisa's interview section).

During his Saturday program, President Correa stated that granting interviews to the private media is contributing to the business of the “corrupt press”. “Why should our ministers grant interviews to Ecuavisa, Teleamazonas, El Universo when they are private businesses. Aren't we by doing this contributing to filling the
pockets of six families that dominate the media nationwide?”

Fundamedios believes this is an attempt against the principle of maximum publicity and transparency of the actions of public officials and against citizens' rights, and a move against the existence of a healthy democratic debate.

The new policy also violates Article 18 of the Ecuadorian Constitution, which establishes that every individual has the right to “seek, receive, exchange, produce, and release (...) information without preemptive censorship about public interest facts, events and processes”. It also establishes the right to “access freely all information generated in public entities (...) there shall be no secrecy of information except in the cases expressly established by the law”. The constitutional principles do not allow for any kind of discrimination, least of all based on the subdivision of the media.

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