Ecuador Government and Media
World Press Freedom Rank: Ecuador 98/180
In 2020 Reporters Without Borders ranked Ecuador 98/180 in their Press Freedom Index citing a “Worrying increase in violence.” In Ecuador, defamation law is a criminal offense and in June 2013 a Communications Law was passed that “provides for the regulation of editorial content and gives officials the power to sanction media outlets” which is used by politicians to censor critical journalists.
Government Influence on Media: In Ecuador, most of the mass media outlets are privately owned with the exception of various national outlets including multiple radio stations and TV networks such as Ecuador TV. During the previous Rafael Correa government, the state was running a large network of more than 15 state-owned media outlets funded by the government to compete against privately-owned media. Currently, we are unable to determine how many state-owned media outlets there are as there is a lack of transparency. According to a Freedom House 2016 report “The government is the country’s largest advertiser and generally grants advertising contracts to outlets that provide favorable coverage,” which promotes pro-government bias.
Private Media ownership in Ecuador is highly concentrated such as Remigio Ángel González, known as El Fantasma who owns 13 television channels and radio stations as of 2015. Another example is Xavier Alvarado Roca who owns Ecuavisa one of the largest TV networks in Ecuador, which is problematic for pluralism and diversity. In addition Defamation, Slander and Libel fall under the criminal code which is used to inhibit freedom of expression. The Communication Law also called the “organic” communication law signed by former president Correa is still used to silence critical journalists. The new president Lenin Moreno who took office in 2017, diverged from that of former President Rafael Correa and pledged a new era of press freedom and reforms.
In conclusion, although the government of Moreno distanced itself from its predecessor by pledging reforms, defamation suits and pressure still threaten media freedom. In addition, the high concentration of privately owned media negatively impacts pluralism and diversity in Ecuador. All of this results in pro-government bias, limited plurality, and decreased press freedom.
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