Telecommunications - Ecuador

Press freedom organizations unite to condemn Ecuador media law, Correa hits back

Press freedom organizations unite to condemn Ecuador media law, Correa hits back

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A range of international press freedom organizations have united to condemn the recently passed media law in Ecuador, while the country's President Rafael Correa has continued to hit back at critics.

The coordinating committee of press freedom organizations - comprised of bodies including the International Association of Broadcasting (IAB), World Press Freedom Committee (WPFC), International Press Institute (IPI) and the Inter American Press Association (IAPA) - approved a resolution calling attention to the increasing loss of press freedoms and fundamental rights in Ecuador.

The most significant change to come out of the law is the redistribution of frequency used for broadcasting, to public and community media, but other articles including measures against so-called "media lynching" which forbid the dissemination of information with the aim of discrediting individuals or legal entities have also caused concern among international organizations.

The law legalizes the concentration of the media by the state, and given its ambiguity, would seriously limit freedom of expression and the press in Ecuador by allowing for the discretionary application of sanctions and government censorship, as well as promoting self-censorship of government critics, the resolution said.

However, government officials have said that the media law is the "final blow" to the monopoly and concentration of media in a few hands, reducing the power of private media which according to Correa "isn't free or independent."

The Ecuadorian president continued to defend the law following the coordinating committee of press freedom organizations' resolution, saying that the "good press" in Ecuador is happy with the media law, while the "bad press" is concerned.

The media law prohibits the closure of media organizations, according to Correa, however the IAPA reported that the law has already taken its first victims, following the closure of local magazine Vanguardia.

The magazine chose not to accept the conditions of the new law, which oblige media organizations to accept responsibility for the third-party opinions which they publish, and accused Correa of a systematic policy to silence all dissident voices.

Correa is also facing legal opposition on the home front. Opposition legislator Luis Fernando Torres presented a lawsuit claiming that the recently-approved media law is unconstitutional, as "various articles incorporated in the final version of the law were never debated in the [national] assembly," news agency EFE reported.

Torres called into question certain words and phrases in some articles, saying that they contain "substantial innovations or modifications to what was previously debated," however in general the legislator has supported the law, which he said will "contribute to the existence of a true democracy."