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Television cameras banned from National Assembly plenary sessions

(IPYS/IFEX) - On 15 January 2009, the National Assembly's leadership decided to ban the admittance of TV cameras to the press box in the building's plenary hall. The measure was announced by Member of Parliament Iván Zerpa, who pointed out that all TV stations will have to use the images provided by the state-run Asamblea Nacional Televisión (ANTV), which will be the only station allowed to videotape the sessions.

Reporters and photojournalists will be allowed into the press box, while camera operators will have to wait at the ceremonial hall, a smaller room at the other end of the parliament building.

The measure was taken after the Globovisión station broadcast live footage of a plenary session. During the session, Member of Parliament Hugo Márquez could be seen looking at pictures of nude women on his laptop computer. The journalist who covered the session accused Márquez of viewing pornography. The member of parliament asked for his right to reply, which was granted immediately, and proceeded to explain that the images were part of an e-mail about breast cancer prevention. The journalist apologised for her accusation.

Zerpa said that the National Assembly's measure was aimed at preventing any "manipulation and misrepresentation by the private media by taping unscrupulous images that expose the institution."

After learning about the measure, the journalists who cover the National Assembly sent a letter to this body's leadership requesting a meeting to discuss the development. They have not received a response.

IPYS condemns the measure, deeming it a restriction on the media outlets that cover the National Assembly.

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