The media landscape in Ecuador is broadly divided into two camps: private media, which is critical of the government and state-sponsored media, which primarily serves as a government mouthpiece. This extreme polarization means the general public has little confidence in the media as a whole and journalists are often regarded as corrupt. In recent years, the government has increased its control over the media thanks to the adoption of a new communications law in 2013 and the creation of a new media regulatory authority. Reporters face substantial fines if the regulatory authority feels they do not adequately report on government activities or if their reporting is unduly critical of politicians. Moreover, it is mainly the populations of the two major cities, Quito and Guayaquil, who enjoy access to mass media. Rural areas, such as the Amazon region, have little access to information. A further hurdle for providing information in rural areas is that the new law compels all media providers to have at least one professional journalist with academic qualifications on staff. This presents a huge challenge for many community radio stations.
In Ecuador, the main focus is on strengthening the community media sector and stimulating dialogue between state and private media. DW Akademie provides consultation services to the radio network alliance CORAPE and its member community media organisations on their programming strategies. This includes advising on alternative business models to help stations become financially independent of state funding. It also encompasses social media training in order to encourage a wider audience, and young people in particular, to connect and engage with the stations. CORAPE is receiving support in its endeavor to establish itself as a center of excellence for community media in Ecuador. To address the polarized media landscape, DW Akademie is helping the think tank FLACSO to organize professional conferences and discussion panels that focus on the role of private, public service and community media in a diverse society.
Funding sources: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country coordinator: Mirjam Gehrke
Operational locations: Quito, Otavalo, Cuenca, Riobamba
Local partners: Coordinadora de Radios Populares del Ecuador (CORAPE), Escuelas Radiofónicas Populares del Ecuador (ERPE), Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales (FLACSO), Radio Católica Cuenca, Radio Ilumán, Radio Runakunapac, Radio La Vorz de Guamote, Radio Alfaro