Ecuador considering bill to limit business interests of media companies

Officials in Ecuador presented a bill on Sept. 6 that would give owners and shareholders of media companies until Jul. 13, 2012, to sell their interests in other businesses, reported Fundamedios.

The bill, titled the Organic Law for the Regulation and Control of the Market, states that any shareholder with more than six percent ownership in a national media company must extract themselves from all other business interests.

On May 7, Ecuadorans approved President Rafael Correa's referendum to limit the business activities of national media companies to avoid "conflicts of interest," reported EFE.

Fundamedios criticized the bill, saying it violates individuals' constitutional rights to start their own media companies and fair access to broadcasting frequencies as stipulated in Article 16 of the Ecuadorian Constitution.

The bill also proposes that the government regulate media companies to avoid monopolistic practices. "The nation demands a law to regulate the abuses of the market's power and economic concentration," wrote the official government newspaper, El Ciudadano.

Some, however, doubt the government's claims of consumer protection. "The government will use the law to exert political influence over businesses," said the economist Pablo Dávalos to the newspaper El Comercio.

Read below for more on the bill's language.