[FoME] Studie "Soft Censorship in Latin America"

Christoph Dietz christoph.dietz at CAMECO.ORG
Mi Aug 20 15:01:13 CEST 2008

The Price of Silence: The Growing Threat of Soft Censorship in Latin
New York: Open Society Institute, 2008, 179 p.

Download: http://www.justiceinitiative.org/db/resource2?res_id=104124

Auch in Spanisch:
El precio del silencio: abuso de publicidad oficial y otras formas de
censura indirecta en América Latina
Asociación por los Derechos Civiles; Iniciativa Pro-Justicia de la
Sociedad Abierta, 2008, 192 p.

Rampant government interference with press freedom threatens editorial
independence and access to unbiased news in seven Latin American
countries, according to a groundbreaking new report, The Price of
Silence. The study catalogues abuses in Argentina, Chile, Colombia,
Costa Rica, Honduras, Peru, and Uruguay, including the widespread use of
public funds to reward or punish news coverage.

"Millions of dollars are tossed around by government officials trying
to buy favorable coverage-a situation made worse by low salaries and
lack of job security for many journalists," said Darian Pavli, one of
the report's authors and an attorney with the Open Society Justice

Authorities in Latin America have long used violence, legal harassment,
and intimidation to silence outspoken journalists. The report uncovers a
less obvious but growing trend of officials using financial incentives
and regulatory powers to control the press.

"This ‘soft' censorship can chill entire newsrooms and yet remains
invisible to the public," said Roberto Saba, executive director of the
Association for Civil Rights, the report's co-publisher. "Immediate
reforms are necessary, including a commitment at all levels of
government to reform advertising laws and stop blackmailing the media."

The Price of Silence documents various types of interference, including
evidence of direct government payments to journalists in Colombia and
Peru; local authorities in Chile dictating what journalists can write
about; and a high-ranking official in Costa Rica attempting to use
advertising contracts to influence the outcome of a protracted political

"Without an independent press, no country can enjoy the benefits of a
vibrant democracy, yet too many governments in Latin America tend to
treat the media like a newsletter," said Maria Teresa Rondero, board
chair of the Colombian Freedom of Press Foundation, which contributed to
the investigation.

According to the study, governments across the region abuse regulatory
powers to manipulate the news. In broadcasting, in particular,
governments have routinely abused licensing laws to benefit political
cronies and keep independent voices off the air. For example, Uruguay is
only recently coming to terms with a long history of political
favoritism that affects the distribution of broadcast licenses.
Authorities also retaliate against critical coverage. In Honduras,
officials suspended telephone service to a national radio station, while
local Argentine authorities shuttered a printing press.

The report offers several recommendations to governments, media
outlets, and journalist associations to combat the problems, including
increased transparency in state advertising. Other recommendations
include empowering auditing agencies to investigate unlawful financial

The Price of Silence: The Growing Threat of Soft Censorship in Latin
America was jointly produced by the Association for Civil Rights
(Argentina) and the Open Society Justice Initiative (New York).
Country-specific research was conducted by the Freedom of Press
Foundation (Colombia), Pro Acceso (Chile), the Institute of Press and
Freedom of Expression (Costa Rica), the Press and Society Institute
(Peru), the Uruguayan Press Association, and local researchers in

CONTACT: Rachel Hart, +1 212 548 0378 (New York), rhart at sorosny.org; or
Eleonora Rabinovich, +54 11 5236 0555 (Buenos Aires),
erabinovich at adc.org.ar

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