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Communications body vows to investigate crime reports by local outlets in Ecuador

Two news reports, one issued on May 18 on the 360 Vision TV news show aired on EcuavisaTV, and the other, published in Vistazo magazine issue No 1121, have sparked reprisals from national and local authorities. The reports were about drug trafficking networks on the coast in Muisne, Esmeraldas province, and about the murder of the mayor of Muisne city, Walquer Vera.

The news reports gave details about crime and violence facing the area as a result of drug-trafficking groups and used terms such as "Terror Island" and "island of fear" to describe what happens. Because of the descriptions used by the media outlets, they may be punished. On May 26, 2014 the state news channel Ecuador TV reported that Muisne authorities, "at the request of the communities," had asked the Superintendent of Information and Communication (Supercom), to review both news reports.

On May 25, a "cadena" ordered by the National Secretariat of Communication (SECOM) interrupted for more than four minutes the Vision 360 TV program, challenging the treatment of both reports. The SECOM said "Vision 360 turned Muisne city inyo the most dangerous city in the region" and presented three testimonies of persons who are Muisne residents and another testimony given by Esmeraldas governor Paola Cabezas, and has required the outlet to offer a public apology, because Miss Cabezas thinks the headline of the report is "sensationalist and tabloid material."

On May 22, the governor sent a letter to Tania Tinoco, director of Vision 360 TV program, expressing their outrage on behalf of the entire province and city because of the report broadcast on May 18. Miss Cabezas said "She cannot be an accomplice in a blatant act of violation of the citizens' rights to have respect for a good name and reputation, and that promoting these stories offends and denigrates the dignity of a pacifist people." In the letter, the governor demands “immediately a public apology and correction" based on Articles 19, 23 and 24 of the Communications Law.

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