Ecuadorian legislators approve new communications law

Update 06/14/2013: Ecuador's National Assembly approved on Friday, June 14, the country's new Communications Law. The law, backed by President Rafael Correa, had 108 votes in favor, reported Spanish daily El Mundo.

That same day, the Colombian Association of Newspapers and Informative Media (Andiarios) published in 53 newspapers in Colombia an editorial against Ecuador's new law, considering it the "the final blow for freedom of the press” and as attempt to silence the media.

The law will also examine the creation of a Regulation and Communication Development Council in order to craft and implement communications policies and regulate media.

Original: Ecuador's National Assembly will discuss on Friday, June 14, a communications bill that seeks to increase community organizations' access in media, reduce private media's participation in the market and create a citizens' council to help regulate the sector, according to news agencies Prensa Libre and Infobae.

The measure would also require broadcast media outlets to transmit Ecuadorian music and that a percentage of their programming correspond to nationally produced content, as well as require that they publish and fulfill a  code of ethics for editorial content. The legislation has a high chance of passage since the ruling party controls 100 of the 137 legislative seats, according to Infobae.

Privately owned media outlets are opposing the bill because they warn that it endangers freedom of information and free use of public information, according to news agency UPI.

Following his reelection in February 2013, President Rafael Correa announced it was necessary for a "good communications law that regulates the clear excesses certain press outlets have in Ecuador," according to Infobae.

Correa has created the "largest media empire in Latin America in the hands of government" with over 15 TV and radio stations being government property since he took power in January 2007.  The government controls the dailies El Telégrafo and PP El Verdadero, the news agency Andes, two television stations seized from former bankers, as well as two radio stations and a public television station.

The Correa administration has been characterized by the use of defamation laws to sue journalists and long official messages that interfere with the programming of independent media, according to report by the Committee for the Protection of Journalists.


Note from the editor: This story was originally published by the Knight Center’s blog Journalism in the Americas, the predecessor of LatAm Journalism Review.