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Ecuador: Evening out the media playing field – The Listening Post (Feature)

Three years after the Ecuadorian government passed a controversial media law aimed at dismantling the power of private media conglomerates, we travel to Quito to see what impact the legislation has had on levelling the media’s uneven playing field.

Some maintain that regardless of the motive, President Rafael Correa’s new media mandates – including daily self-presented broadcasts on the achievements and progrerss of the Correa government – equate to old-fashioned censorship.

“Some will call it propaganda – that’s because it is. It’s a space for self-promotion. It’s a totally different communications strategy from other Ecuadorean presidents who always used to go through spokesmen,” says Isabel Ramos, media analyst at Flacso University in Ecuador.

Others admire the initiative taken by Correa to manage the narrative consumed by the Ecuadorean people, especially where private-owned media controlled by the rich conservative right-wing community is concerned.

“Like it or not, Rafael Correa is a phenomenon in the field of communication. He succeeded in permeating the national consciousness. If he wasn’t charismatic, didactic, he may have bored everyone and it wouldn’t have worked. It has happened with leaders before. The only problem is that in this system, the strategy relies too heavily on him and noone else,” says Orlando Perez, editor-in-chief at El Telegrafo.

But with right-wing journalists losing their jobs over outspoken Twitter ‘rants’ against Correa’s government and others praising the new ‘equality’ in coverage capabilities between right and leftist publications, a divide has begun to deepen.

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