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Radio journalist "invited" to step down temporarily; programme host condemns censorship at TV station

(IPYS/IFEX) - 19 May 2011 - On 17 May 2011, journalist Yuri Castro Sánchez, a commentator on the "Réplica" programme broadcast on radio Diplomat, was "invited" by the programme director, Víctor Gil Rodríguez, to step down temporarily and return after the elections' second round because he is critical of presidential candidate Keiko Fujimori. The incident occurred in La Libertad region, in northern Peru.

Castro Sánchez, who also works for the northern edition of "La República" newspaper, is an all-out critic of the excesses of the former government of Alberto Fujimori, father of the above-mentioned candidate, and believes the country would be put at risk by a Keiko Fujimori administration, something he has been trying to emphasise during the last few weeks.

According to what IPYS was told by Castro Sánchez, who worked as a commentator for "Réplica" since February 2010, Gil Rodríguez's "invitation" is no more than an attempt at censorship and, therefore, his absence from the programme will be definitive.

Gil Rodríguez believes the commentator has misrepresented facts and little by little has been chipping away at the programme's independence and impartiality. "I have directed this space for 11 years and I wasn't going to allow this to happen anymore, even though I talked with him (Castro Sánchez) over four or five weeks asking him to be more impartial," he told IPYS.

In a separate incident, on 19 May, Josefina Townsend, presenter of the Canal N news programme, condemned the station's editorial decision not to broadcast presidential candidate Ollanta Humala's oath before renowned Peruvian personalities. This was the most important news of the day for the rest of the media.

Townsend said that what happened does not help to dissipate doubts about Canal N's informative bias after producer Patricia Montero was dismissed to pave the way for the station's support of one of the presidential candidates.

According to a statement issued by IPYS's Directive Council on 21 April, in which it also called for journalistic pluralism in television, journalists were fired from Canal N for political reasons in support of Keiko Fujimori's candidacy. The Peruvian elections will be decided in a second round between Fujimori and Humala on 5 June.

Townsend said the news department received protests on 19 May because of the station's decision to broadcast a piece about "pop music queens" instead of a newsworthy event. She also announced that she would defend "as far as it was possible" the production of an unbiased news programme while she continues working for the station, which belongs to newspapers "El Comercio" and "La República".

IPYS backs Josefina Townsend's defense of informative pluralism in the media outlet she works for.

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