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Government withdraws official advertising contracts from "opposition" newspapers

(IPYS/IFEX) - Representatives of the dailies "La Prensa" and "La Noticia" reported on 9 January 2009 that the Barinas state regional government has given orders stating that no official advertising should be published in their newspapers, which have been classified as being in opposition to the government. Barinas is located in central Venezuela.

Pressure to stop advertising in these newspapers is also being placed on companies or other entitites that provide services to state institutions.

"La Prensa"'s editor in chief, Estela Tamy, told IPYS that the government's actions with respect to placement of official publicity began after the governor of Barinas, Adán Chávez, branded the newspapers as government opponents.

Despite the financial difficulties resulting from the lack of official advertising revenue, Tamy has refused to fire journalists as a result of the political pressure. She also said that there are officials within the government who disagree with the arbitrary measures against the newspapers.

It has also been made known that the government has outstanding debts with the newspapers for advertisements that were published in the past.

IPYS contacted Noel Zamudia, director of the Barinas state Regional Information Office (ORI), by telephone to ask about the case, but he replied that a request should be sent via e-mail. IPYS has not received an answer.

IPYS condemns these actions, which distribute official advertising on a discriminatory basis, and views them as an indirect mechanism through which press freedom is affected by having an impact on the financial sustainability of media outlets.

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