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"elPeriódico" newspaper calls for investigation into government censorship of the press via discriminatory allocation of government advertising

(CERIGUA/IFEX) - The following is an abbreviated translation of a 16 February 2009 CERIGUA alert:

The "elPeriódico" newspaper recently accused the government of Álvaro Colom of censoring the press by using government advertising funds in a discriminatory fashion to punish or reward media outlets. As a result, the newspaper has asked the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights's (IACHR) Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression to intervene in the situation.

On 4 February 2009, Colom's government cancelled all government publicity in print media, saying that the move was made for budgetary reasons. However, at the same time, the government has allocated high levels of state advertising to television stations owned by the Mexican entrepreneur Ángel González.

The "elPeriódico" editorial staff said that rewarding media outlets that support the government while discriminating against those that are more critical constitutes an attack on freedom of expression in a country where the media market is already highly concentrated and distorted by monopolies, aided by backing from the government.

"elPeriódico" called on the IACHR and the Inter American Press Association to demand an explanation from the government and initiate the appropriate actions to address the situation.

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