Freedom of the Press 2009 - Ecuador
|Publication Date||1 May 2009|
|Cite as||Freedom House, Freedom of the Press 2009 - Ecuador, 1 May 2009, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4b27421828.html [accessed 2 December 2015]|
Status: Partly Free
Legal Environment: 15 (of 30)
Political Environment: 18 (of 40)
Economic Environment: 11 (of 30)
Total Score: 44 (of 100)
(Lower scores = freer)
Covers events that took place between January 1, 2008, and December 31, 2008.
The media environment in Ecuador showed some deterioration in 2008, as the government moved to regulate and restrict the broadcast media.
On September 28, 2008, Ecuadorians approved a new constitution, securing fundamental guarantees such as the rights to "communication and information" and "access to public information." The constitution also addresses "social communication," meaning the rights of citizens to receive information from the media, the government's control over television and radio frequencies, and regulation of media ownership. The dissemination of content that incites violence or discrimination, racism, drug addiction, sexism, and religious or political intolerance is prohibited. Journalists' right to professional secrecy and confidentiality of sources is protected.
The new constitution provides for freedom of speech and of the press, though President Rafael Correa frequently belittles journalists and media executives and accuses them of corruption. The government sometimes engages in advertising campaigns to refute news reports.
On June 17, the courts dismissed a May 2007 lawsuit in which Correa accused the president of the board of directors for La Hora newspaper of violating the country's insult laws.
Monopolies of radio frequencies are illegal. On November 20, the government created a Commission for Auditing Radio and Television Concessions that will review 5,000 licenses to determine whether there is "direct or indirect" monopolization.
In January, the state regulatory agency for television and radio, the National Radio and Television Council (CONARTEL), ordered two radio stations to "correct" reports that were critical of the president. In August, CONARTEL seized cable companies and two television stations (TC Television and Gamavision) in bankruptcy proceedings, cancelling some programs. Other broadcast stations have lost appeals challenging their closure.
In 2008, the Correa administration enforced a provision of the Radio and Television Broadcasting Law that requires all stations to broadcast one hour of educational and health information daily at no charge to the government, as well as mandating coverage, free of charge, of all presidential and cabinet reports and speeches.
No journalists were killed in 2008, and none have been murdered since Correa took office. On occasion, media reports that are deemed to have insulted the president lead to the interrogation of journalists by the authorities.
Most broadcast and print media outlets are privately owned. The government owns and operates one radio station, the newspaper El Telegrafo, and the new Canal Ecuador TV, which premiered in 2007 and is funded by a US$5 million grant from the Venezuelan government.
Media outlets express a broad range of editorial viewpoints, many of which are critical of the government. However, they often reflect the political perspectives of their sponsors, a situation that has fueled Correa's frequent accusations of media bias. As part of his proposed reforms, Correa has called for the redrawing of ownership rules to encourage "healthy competition."
There were no government restrictions on internet access or evidence of monitoring by the authorities, though connectivity is concentrated in larger cities. Just over 12 percent of Ecuadorians use the internet.