28 October 1998

Alert

Concern over cancellation of tv programmes


Incident details

censored


(IPYS/IFEX) - On 9 October 1998, Julio Vera, owner of the Channel 9
television network, told Cecilia Valenzuela, host of the Channel 9 weekly
television programme Sin Censura (Without Censorship,) that her last show
would air on Sunday 1 November. On 12 October, Luis Ibérico, the director of
the programme, was told his contract with Channel 9 was being terminated.
Financial difficulties were cited as reasons in both cases. Both journalists
told IPYS, however, that they believe the actions were undertaken to put an
end to independent and objective reporting at the station.




**For background on recent threats to Cecilia Valenzuela, see additional
IFEX alert of 27 October 1998**
According to Ibérico, a few days before, government publicist Daniel
Borobbio visited the owner of Channel 9. Ibérico says Borobbio offered to
help the network financially through the placement of official advertising,
on the condition that the two journalists be removed.


The two had produced important stories on government corruption and the
illegal actions of the intelligence services. Both journalists have received
death threats and a campaign to discredit Valenzuela was undertaken by a
sensationalist daily close to the government.


Channel 9 is heavily indebted and going through severe financial
difficulties.


A few days before the incidents at Channel 9, the only independent political
programme left on Peruvian television, Enlace Global con Hildebrandt (Global
Links with [journalist César] Hildebrandt,) aired a story which included an
audio recording of a telephone conversation between Borobbio and Channel 4's
owner, Miguel Francisco Crousillat. During the course of the conversation,
Borobbio gave Crousillat guidelines for that evening's newscast; he asked
him to play down a student march calling for a referendum and to give
prominence to a story on a Peruvian soldier who was killed while deploying a
mine along the border with Ecuador. According to Hildebrandt's programme,
the newscast followed the guidelines to the letter. Borobbio and Crousillat
denied the incident.


Background Information


What has occurred at Channel 9 appears to be part of a strategy aimed at
controlling the press through economic pressure on its owners, says IPYS. In
this case, financial assistance through official advertising was given in
exchange for taking two programmes viewed as oppositional off the air. In
other cases, pressure is exercised through the use of the tax authorities,
who review media's books and contracts, or through trumped up tax evasion
charges which lead to trials and fines. These create severe difficulties for
media outlets and for private companies which advertise in media outlets
considered oppositional. These tactics are being used to control the
independent press in Peru today. The extreme case is that of Baruch Ivcher
(see IFEX alerts.)


Valenzuela and Ibérico have asked IPYS to explain these subtle attacks on
the press to the international community, since the situation may worsen as
year 2000 general elections approach.









Source

Instituto Prensa y Sociedad
Sucre N° 317
Barranco, Lima
Perú
postmaster (@) ipys.org
Fax:+51 1 2473194
 
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