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Magazine owner denied government advertising after commenting on corruption

(CEPET/IFEX) - Tulio Ortiz Uribe, the owner and editor of "La Tijereta" magazine, which circulates in the southern part of Baja California, northern Mexico, has announced that the government is refusing to give him advertising contracts and has suspended payments owed to the magazine for past advertising.

Ortiz Uribe told CEPET that at the end of April 2008, Alfonso Gabito, the head of the Southern Baja California Radio and Television Institute (Instituto de Radio y Televisión de Baja California Sur), called him to tell him that "La Tijereta" would no longer receive contracts for government advertising and that the debts owing to the magazine would not be paid as a result of an interview Ortiz Uribe gave to "Proceso" magazine. The orders to cut off the government advertising were apparently given by the state's social communications director.

In the "Proceso" interview, which was published at the beginning of April, Ortiz Uribe spoke out about the participation of the state governor, government officials and business owners in speculation on the sale of beaches to American business owners.

The state government currently owes "La Tijereta" more than 33,000 pesos (approx. US$2,500). Ortiz Uribe said he will not initiate legal action because the authorities cannot act as both judge and a party involved in the case.

CEPET regards the discretional use of government advertising to award media outlets and journalists that support the government and punish those who do not, to be a violation of freedom of expression as established in the principle 13 of the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression of the Organisation of American States:

"The exercise of power and the use of public funds by the state, the granting of customs duty privileges, the arbitrary and discriminatory placement of official advertising and government loans; the concession of radio and television broadcast frequencies, among others, with the intent to put pressure on and punish or reward and provide privileges to social communicators and communications media because of the opinions they express threaten freedom of expression, and must be explicitly prohibited by law."

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