TV host forced to apologise to gays, blacks

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Quito - On orders from Ecuador's media regulator, a television news presenter publicly apologized Wednesday for having used the words “fags” and “blacks” in an on-air comment.

Alfredo Pinoargote, of the private Ecuavisa channel, was ordered to apologize after a ruling party lawmaker complained to the Superintendence of Information and Communication that his remarks were “discriminatory.”

At issue were comments Pinoargote made during his interview program earlier this year about free speech in Ecuador.

“There is an atmosphere or system of restrictions of that freedom (of expression). For example, you can no longer refer to gays as 'fags,' you can no longer say 'blacks' to afros,” he said.

Pinoargote argued that he had not used those words as insults but to make the point that certain politicians “gag free expression using those groups as a shield.”

The media regulator, known as Supercom, sided with ruling party deputy Alexandra Ocles, who had lodged the complaint against Pinoargote.

Pinoargote was given 72 hours to make a public apology.

“I ask the forgiveness of the Afro-Ecuadoran people and of the community of diverse sexual orientations for what I said in this space, January 7, 2014, that one can no longer say what lawmaker Ocles in her complaint said cannot be said,” Pinoargote said Wednesday on his interview show.

Carlos Ochoa, the head of Supercom, said he was satisfied with the apology.

The media regulator, created under a 2013 press law pushed by the government of President Rafael Correa, has been controversial.

Last week, Ecuador's largest circulation tabloid was forced to apologize for running photos of a scantily clad model.

Before that a cartoonist was forced to rerun a cartoon correcting a caption that had angered the government.

Correa, a leftist, has clashed repeatedly with the independent media in Ecuador, often taking his critics to court on charges of slander.


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