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Creating public media, especially broadcast media, was one of the priorities of Fernando Lugo’s government after this "bishop of the poor" became president in 2008. IPParaguay, a state news agency, was created on 19 January 2009. State-owned TV Pública was launched on 15 September 2011. But then, on 22 June 2012, parliament summarily and controversially removed Lugo from office and his vice-president, Federico Franco, took over. Following Lugo’s ouster, regarded by some as a parliamentary coup, the new government set about asserting its control over public information policy.
Employees who had participated in public criticism of the parliamentary coup or who had covered this criticism were the targets of an ideological purge. The heads of TV Pública and IPParaguay resigned the same day that Lugo was removed. Eight journalists and media professionals employed by state media or the previous government received confirmation on 12 July 2012 that they were being fired. Twenty-seven TV Pública employees were dismissed without warning on 4 September 2012. Several public media opinion programmes such as "Ape ha Pepe" and "Red Pública" on Radio Nacional and "Micrófono Abierto" on TV Pública were temporarily taken off the air.
Most of the community radio stations have been outspoken in their criticism of the new government but they still lack proper legal status and have been under a lot of pressure. Several recent changes to the telecommunications law, one of the issues over which Lugo fought with parliament before his removal, could endanger the future of the community radios, which lack resources and are usually waiting to be granted licences. Paraguay Broadcasters’ Union president Javier Correa, who represents the leading commercial broadcasters, has been urging the new government to close 1,200 "pirate” radio stations, which he accuses of "inciting crime."
Impunity continues to be a problem in Paraguay. One of the latest examples is the March 2011 murder of Merardo Romero, the head of programming at community radio station La Voz de Ytakyry. The judicial authorities have treated the murder’s presumed instigators with an outrageous degree of indulgence. The same goes for other recent crimes of violence against independent and community radio journalists.
Updated in September 2012
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