09 June 2008

IAPA voices renewed criticism over official advertising in Bermuda


Miami (June 9, 2008)—The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) today reiterated its criticism of the government of Bermuda for continuing to discriminate in the distribution of official advertising, an action to which the local newspaper The Royal Gazette has been subjected for the past three months, and called on the authorities there instead to apply objective and transparent criteria in deciding where such advertising should be placed.


When the Bermuda government announced in March that it would no longer be advertising in The Royal Gazette, claiming it was a “cost-cutting” measure, the IAPA sent a note to Prime Minister Ewart Brown calling such discrimination contrary to freedom of the press and requesting a reversal of the action against the nation’s leading newspaper and the only one to be subjected to it.


Brown told the IAPA in reply that The Royal Gazette had received official advertising during the last fiscal year but it had been decided that the government would now use less costly media outlets, giving priority to online media with greater penetration in the country. But he provided no factual support for this posture. The government denied that the action had been taken in reprisal for the newspaper’s critical editorial stance.


The chairman of the IAPA’s Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, Gonzalo Marroquín, declared that “the reasons for the government’s action must be transparent and be based on independent sources and not on mere subjective opinions, meaning that public funds or resources will be handled efficiently.”


Marroquín, editor of the Guatemala City, Guatemala, newspaper Prensa Libre, added, “As we made clear earlier, so long as there is no transparency in the placement of official advertising we will continue thinking that The Royal Gazette is being penalized for its editorial stance.”