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Honduras: When media bosses censor their own journalists

Reporters Without Borders condemns the censorship of Suelte la lengua (Talk freely), a programme that Canal 6 TV has not broadcast since 15 May without any explanation from its CEO, Paul Misselem. Presented by Jorge Burgos and Emy Padilla, the programme is openly critical of President Juan Orlando Hernández's government.

“We call on Canal 6 to resume broadcasting Suelte la lengua without delay,” said Camille Soulier, the head of the Reporters Without Borders Americas desk. “Pressure from the authorities cannot justify depriving Hondurans of a programme that is in the general interest.”

Burgos and Padilla have repeatedly been censored by Canal 6's own management. Their programme, which has often linked banks and commercial enterprises to corruption, has upset some of the TV station's shareholders.

Padilla reports that, in the middle of recording one programme, she was passed a note from the Canal 6 production staff ordering her not to mention a certain subject. Suelte la lengua often has guests who are involved in human rights, especially the heads of NGOs and grass-roots organizations.

This climate of censorship affects other independent journalists as well. Ricardo Guerra of Actualidad Porteña, a programme broadcast by Teleport Cortés, a regional TV station based in the northern city of Puerto Cortés, has described the problems in this region to Reporters Without Borders.

“This is a new phenomenon”, he said. “We cannot cover all subjects. Some are off-limits because they jeopardize the economic interests of these media as regards certain companies. Independent journalists who propose a story about the Puerto Cortés authorities are often told 'We don't cover that'.”

Guerra also said he often received threats or insults by telephone that are directly linked to what he has reported on the air.

Honduras is ranked 129th out of 180 countries in the 2014 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.

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