New York, June 4, 2009--The opening of two government investigations into private television network Teleamazonas and threats of legal action by Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa against critical media outlets are an attempt by the government to stifle dissent, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
During his weekly radio address on Saturday, President
Correa said that he would resort to legal action to "finish now with the corrupt
press." Following the president's threat, the National Council of
CONARTEL fined Teleamazonas US$20 after it aired a bullfight
on February 17, the Ecuadoran press reported. A 2008 CONARTEL resolution
forbids broadcast bullfights between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m. On Saturday, Correa said
Telemazonas had violated Article 58 of Ecuador's Law on Broadcasting with last
week's broadcast of a story on the ecological damage caused by oil exploration
in the southern
"By threatening to take direct action against media outlets that criticize President Correa's policies, the Ecuadoran government is trying to repress opposing ideas and opinions," said CPJ Americas Senior Program Coordinator Carlos Lauría. "We call on Correa to abstain from threatening critical media outlets."
In May, CONARTEL opened a second investigation into the network for allegedly violating Article 58, which prohibits airing "news based on unfounded allegations that could produce social unrest," in a story about ballot counting. If the network is sanctioned it could face a 90-day suspension for its second violation.
Correa has had a contentious relationship with
On May 28, unidentified individuals tossed two homemade
bombs and antigovernment pamphlets at Teleamzonas' offices in