Four newspapers and three TV stations were fined US$3,750 each for not carrying a story on presidential candidate Guillermo Lasso.
Ecuador fines media for not publishing a story
Ecuador has fined seven media companies for not publishing a story that it deemed of public interest.
The state’s media watchdog said the press had a duty to cover a story about the supposed offshore dealings of opposition politician and recent presidential candidate Guillermo Lasso.
The investigation was published in an Argentine newspaper in March.
The watchdog and the media companies have accused each other of censorship. Appeals are under way.
The ruling was made against newspapers El Comercio, La Hora, Expreso and El Universo, and television channels Televicentro, Teleamazonas and Ecuavisa.
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The report, “Lasso: the offshore tycoon”, was first published by Argentina’s left-wing Pagina 12 newspaper, and was picked up by various other Ecuadorean news outlets ahead of the country’s election on 2 April.
The Committee to Protect Journalists asserts that “No government anywhere, including in Ecuador, has any business telling the news media what to cover,” and reports,
In defending its actions before Supercom, lawyers for El Comercio argued that the original Página/12 story was poorly reported, failed to include a response from Lasso, and that publishing the unverified allegations would have violated an Ecuadoran law barring media from promoting or denigrating candidates immediately before elections.
Freedom House has rated Ecuador’s press status as “not free.”