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IFJ protests restrictions on media during election campaign

(IFJ/IFEX) - 17 November 2011 - The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), the European group of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), joins its affiliates in Spain in condemning restrictions imposed by political parties on the work of journalists covering the election campaign. The election campaign must end with the opening of polling stations on 20 November.

"The legal restrictions on news coverage, including timing and electoral issues, which have been decided by the electoral authority according to the representation of political forces in the parliament does not respect the work of journalists, nor the principles of democratic journalism," said EFJ President Arne König.

Every day, during the news on TVE (the national public broadcaster), a statement from the information council, which represents all newsroom journalists, is read out to express their opposition to the restriction, which prevents them from covering the campaign in accordance with their professional independence. On the Catalan channel TV3, the journalists are refusing to sign the broadcast information about the elections.

In addition, the main political parties are reportedly preventing TV crews from filming their election meetings. Instead, they "offer" packages with pictures and recorded statements produced by their own teams. On several channels which broadcast this material, a subtitle on the screen indicates the partisan, non-journalistic source of the information.

The EFJ also recalls that the organisation of TV debates in this election followed an agreement between senior officials of the main parties, without any real involvement of journalists. During its annual meeting in Belgrade, the EFJ had already expressed support for Spanish colleagues, who criticised the emerging tendency among politicians of denying journalists the right to ask question during press conferences.

"These restrictions on media just show that the political parties in Spain are only interested in promoting their propaganda. This shouldn't be allowed in a democracy of the European Union," added Arne König. "We support the Spanish journalists who expose the unconstitutionality of these measures, which don't respect professional standards of journalism."

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