Seven media companies have been fined by the government of Ecuador for not publishing a story that it deemed of public interest.
The newspapers including; El Comercio, La Hora, Expreso and El Universo, and television channels Televicentro, Teleamazonas and Ecuavisa were fined $3,750 (£3,000), the equivalent of 10 journalists’ basic salaries, by a government watchdog, known as Supercom.
According to the state’s media watchdog, the press had a duty to cover a story about the supposed offshore dealings of opposition politician and recent presidential candidate Guillermo Lasso.
Supercom’s superintendent Carlos Ochoa called the fines both a punishment and a motivation for improving journalistic practices.
Pedro Valverde, a lawyer for El Universo newspaper, told the BBC he will be “exhausting all administrative and judicial options to annul this absurd sanction”.
However, local free speech organisation Fundamedios said the government should not be fining the media.
“It is an act of censorship designed to give the government the role of editor of all media, deciding what to publish or not,” said director Cesar Ricaurte.
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