Official interruptions by Ecuador's president add up to eight days worth of air time, NGO says

During the last five years, Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa has interrupted 1,365 broadcasts to give official announcements, adding up to 11,793 minutes, equivalent to eight days time, on the air, according to the organization Fundamedios in an interview with the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

These official interruptions, or "cadenas," are one of the tools the government in Ecuador uses to exercise its "right to reply," a provision in the 2008 Constitution guaranteeing individuals the chance to respond to media slander, according to a recent report from CPJ.

Secretary of Communications Patricio Barriga said the cadenas are designed to check the "barrage" of lies the private media spreads about the government, according to the report.

However, Fundamedios, which has been the subject of 10 cadenas, considers them abusive because the government has sufficient mechanisms to express itself, including a media conglomerate with newspapers, television channels and radio stations. Officials would have the option to give their statements to the media but an executive order from Correa bars government officials from speaking with the private press.

"There is no way to prepare for a cadena because you have no idea what the government is angry about," journalist Janet Hinostroza told CPJ, whose reports have provoked several of such interruptions, "You get surprised on the air."

Click here to read the full report from CPJ.

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.