Ecuador to vote controversial media law

Ecuador's Congress is set to vote Friday on a communications bill that will sharply reduce the private media's allotment of the country's airwaves over opposition protests.

The law was proposed by President Rafael Correa whose ruling party gained absolute majority in the Congress in May 14 elections.

An attempt to pass the bill last year failed for a lack of a quorum amid opposition charges that the overhaul will institute a mechanism for censuring the private media, which has clashed repeatedly with the leftist Correa.

The measure will redistribute airwaves, reducing private media's share to a third from 85 percent in radio and 71 percent in television.

Under the bill, a 33 percent share will go to state media and another 33 percent to community radio and television.

The bill also would set up a new regulatory body with power to sanction and fine companies that refuse to correct published information.

In the past, Correa has responded to negative coverage by suing Ecuadoran news organizations and journalists under the country's slander laws.