Chile’s Association of Journalists calls on viewers to switch of the TV at 9 o’clock, the traditional news hour.
The blackout is a protest against concentration of a media ownership and a demand for a constitutional guarantee for the right to information. It comes amidst nation wide union strikes that began today.
“Our intention is that the demands of the journalists are part of a movement that could extend democracy in Chile. To achieve this objective it is essential to grow pluralism, through the incentive of the creation of new means of communication,” said the president of the association, Marcelo Castillo, in a press statement.
Freedom of the Press in Chile
Reporters Without Borders puts Chile at 33rd in the world rankings of media freedom. The RWB report on Chile for 2010 acknowledges that “the Chilean media are exposed to fewer security problems than other countries in the region.”
However it goes on to say that “the Chilean media suffer from an extraordinary concentration of ownership, in fact, most of them are owned by just two companies.” In an interview with CNN Marcelo Castillo put the percentage of the print media owned by these conglomerates – El Mercurio and Copesa (La Tercera) – at 90%.
Through a system established during the dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet, these two companies are given state subsidies of $5 million per year.
According to the report “half a dozen opposition magazines. . . that were tolerated during the latter years of the dictatorship have all had to close for lack of funding and assistance.”
Meanwhile, 60% of the countries radio stations are owned by Spanish media conglomerate Prisa.
The report likens President Sebastian Piñera to Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, saying that Mr. Piñera “has no interest in any changes because of his links with the mainstream media.”
Association journalists have vowed to use alternative outlets, such as social media to report the strikes today and tomorrow.
Meanwhile, Sitio Quiltro is expecting a sharp spike in hits as people seek alternative news sources.