04 January 2014

IAPA urges Peru government to stay outside of a disagreement between media

The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) today called on the government of Peru to avoid interfering on the ongoing disagreement between media groups, following some statements made by President Ollanta Humala.
MIAMI, Florida (January 3, 2013)—The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) today called on the government of Peru to avoid interfering on the ongoing disagreement between media groups, following some statements made by President Ollanta Humala. “The president has every right to express an opinion about a matter of great public interest, like the one that is being debated on the front pages of the newspapers, but it seems to us advisable that your government stays out of the dispute for the issue to be resolved through the corresponding lines,” declared the chairman of the IAPA’s Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, Claudio Paolillo. Paolillo, editor of the Montevideo, Uruguay, weekly Búsqueda , recalled that in the report on Peru approved in October 2013 during the IAPA’s General Assembly in Denver, Colorado, the organization resolved to leave record of the fact that “there has been a development in the country (Peru) portrayed as a potential threat to freedom of the press, following Grupo El Comercio group acquiring a majority interest in Empresa Periodística Nacional S.A. (EPENSA) in August.” The General Assembly said that “Grupo El Comercio took control of 54% of EPENSA’s shares, with the Agois Banchero family retaining a 46% interest in the company, the company’s main function and activity will be of production, marketing and distribution. Grupo Agois Banchero, meanwhile, will be in charge of journalistic content and editorial control of the newspapers Ojo, Correo, Aja and El Bocón, as well as various multimedia platforms; Grupo EPENSA S.A.C., a company wholly owned by Grupo Agois Banchero, was created for this purpose. Grupo El Comercio said that the transaction does not violate any laws or the Constitution.” The IAPA report said that “Grupo El Comercio added that plurality or diversity of opinion, press freedom and the concentration of media outlets are not affected, since the same amount of newspapers will continue to be published. It further maintains that no position of dominance has been abused and therefore no monopoly exists.” Nevertheless, the document added, “Grupo La República says that this transaction makes free competition practically impossible and violates Article 61 of the Constitution. This Article states: ‘The press, radio, television and other types of media and in general enterprises, goods and services related to freedom of expression and communication may not be subject to exclusivity, monopoly or hoarding, directly or indirectly, by the State or private parties.’” “Grupo La República”, the General Assembly report declared, “warned about the consequences of this heavy concentration of print media outlets and of the dominant position that it creates. It also said that this process compromises diversity of opinion, a feature essential to democracy.” Paolillo recalled that “this matter gave rise to an intense debate at the General Assembly, manifesting a will to find ways to deal with the issue” and stressed that the parties agreed that any way out to solve the disagreement “always (will be) outside of governmental intervention.” Last week President Humala said during a television interview that the association between Grupo El Comercio and EPENSA “is not illegal” but immediately added “right now it is not illegal,” giving the sensation that he planned to intervene in the matter. “At the same time that we consider President Humala’s perceptions an error, we also positively value the latest public statements of his Justice Minister, Daniel Figallo, who stated that the Executive Branch is not preparing any legislative bill on the matter,” Paolillo said. Figallo said this week, following President Humala’s words, that his government does not regard it as “prudent to carry out a study of that nature.” He also said that the Executive Branch will respect the decisions that the Judicial Branch adopts on this issue. This week a Constitutional Court judge admitted for process a request for “protection against media concentration” presented by eight editors, publishers and journalists against those in charge of Grupo El Comercio and EPENSA. The IAPA is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the defense and promotion of freedom of the press and of expression in the Americas. It is made up of more than 1,300 print publications from throughout the Western Hemisphere and is based in Miami, Florida. For more information please go to http://www.sipiapa.org