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Journalist taken off the air during broadcast of his programme

(PROBIDAD/IFEX) - On the morning of 16 February 2005, journalist Mauricio Funes was abruptly taken off the air by the management of Canal 12 television station while he was hosting the "La Entrevista al Día" programme. At the time of the incident Funes was talking about the dismissal the previous day of a number of individuals who worked for his programme and the news programme "Hechos". The journalist was forced to cancel the interview with the guest he had invited to speak on the programme. The incident took place while the programme was being broadcast live in El Salvador and abroad. No explanation was provided for the interruption.

Funes had been telling the audience about the difficulties encountered in putting the programme together after the dismissal the previous day of several key "Hechos" and "La Entrevista al Día" staff members. The press coordinator, the producer in charge of interviews and the news programme's production head were among those fired on the afternoon of 15 February.

Prior to the broadcast of the interrupted programme, Funes spoke to the station's administrative manager, production manager and director general to ask why the staff had been dismissed. The journalist believes the dismissals are an attempt to exercise control over the programme and perhaps modify the station's editorial orientation. He was told that the decision was made in Mexico, by the management of AZTECA, which owns Canal 12, and that there was nothing that could be done about it.

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