Ecuador’s 2013 communications law should be used as a basis for the rest of the region, as it would “strengthen democracy, solidarity, culture and identity,” says national assembly member Octavio Villacreces.
The communication law, pushed by President Rafael Correa, redefines news as a “public good” that can be regulated by the government for the “benefit of all citizens.” Correa has long considered the established media as his enemy.
Villacreces is promoting a pan-Latin American communications law to the Latin American Parliament (Parlatino), a regional organization comprising 23 Latin American parliaments.
Ecuador’s media law set out plans to divide spectrum equally between public, private and community media outlets, and included regulations on so-called ‘media lynching,’ effectively prohibiting release of information that could discredit individuals or legal entities.
While the government hailed the law as the “final blow” to media concentration in the hands of a powerful few, a range of press freedom organizations have spoken out to condemn it.
The measure will be opposed by the Inter American Press Association (IAPA) which says it violates basic tenants of free speech.
IAPA spokesman Andres Martinez says that although the proposal has no chance of passage, he finds it alarming that it is even being brought up. “The Ecuadorian model goes against the centuries-long fight for free speech,” he says. “The idea of making information a ‘public good’ is simply kooky. It has nothing to do with putting the power of information in the hands of citizens. It has everything to do with government control.”
Photo caption: Octavio Villacreces