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Ecuador Passes Controversial Communications Law

After almost four years of debate, with 108 votes in favor and 26 against, the Ecuadorian National Assembly passed a controversial Law of Communications propelled by President Rafael Correa.

While government authorities have celebrated [es] the passage of the law, journalistic organizations and the opposition consider [es] it a “gag” on freedom of expression in the country.

The law creates a Council of Content Regulation “in order to craft and implement communications policies and regulate media,” as Tania Lara reports on the Centro Knight blog.

As an article [es] on DW explains, the Council on Content Regulation “will have power in spheres such as access to information, content and time slots, development of regulations and reports for the allocation of frequencies, among others. The council will regulate media content that is discriminatory or related to violence. For the media that broadcasts this content, the council would be able to impose sanctions that range from public apologies on behalf of the editors to heavy economic fines.”

The law [es] also prohibits “media lynching,” the spread of information “destined to discredit a person or legal entity or reduce their public credibility.” The regulation also distributes radio and television frequencies, “reserving 33% of these frequencies for public media operations, 33% for private media operations and 34% for community media operations.”

Foto de @PoliticaEc

Photo from @PoliticaEc, The official account of the National Secretariat for Policy Management – SNGP reported from the festival that occurred in the outskirts of the Assembly following the passing of the law.

Andrés Páez (‏@andrespaezid) [es], an assemblyman of the opposition, labeled July 14, 2013, the day that the law was passed, as a “day of mourning”:

@andrespaezid: Hoy es un día fúnebre para el Ecuador. Hoy en la Asamblea Nacional se firma el acta de defunción de la libertad… http://fb.me/MNRlMYk6

@andrespaezid: Today is a day of mourning for Ecuador. Today, in the National Assembly, the act marking the death of freedom was signed… http://fb.me/MNRlMYk6

Mercy Castro (@Mercy2ACastr) [es], journalist for the daily La Hora, a private written publication, wrote in an outrage:

@Mercy2ACastr: Ver al oficialismo festejando la aprobación d la #LeydeComunicación, es tan desagradable como ver a ancianos y niños mendigando en ls calles

@Mercy2ACastr: Seeing government authorities celebrating the passage of the #LeydeComunicación [#LawofCommunications] is as unpleasant as seeing the elderly and children begging in the streets

On the other hand, Isabella Buchelli B. (@IsaBuchelli) [es] reacted as follows:

@IsaBuchelli: Los que se quejan de la #LibertadDeExpresion y de la #LeydeComunicación son los que mas insultan…

@IsaBuchelli: Those who complain about #LibertadDeExpresion [#FreedomofExpression] and the #LeydeComunicación [#LawofCommunication] are the most insulting of them all…

Gabriela Rivadeneira (‏@gabrielaespais) [es], President of the National Assembly, appeared content upon the passage of the law:

@gabrielaespais: Desde hoy, l@s ecuatorian@s van a tener la voz para reclamar sus derechos que los medios monopólicos les han quitado #LeydeComunicación

@gabrielaespais: As of today, Ecuadorians will have a voice to demand the rights that the media monopolies have taken away from them #LeydeComunicación [#LawofCommunications]

President Rafael Correa has maintained a tense relationship with the press. According to Tania Lara on the Centro Knight blog:

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.

Last year the Committee for the Protection of Journalists published this video about “Confrontation in Ecuador under Correa”:

The law, which contains 119 articles, now needs to be ratified by President Correa.

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