QUITO, Ecuador, June 18 (UPI) -- A newspaper in Ecuador has been fined $350,000 for not publishing a government reply to a report as requested.
The El Universo daily published a report in March on the government owing about $1.7 million to Ecuador's Social Security. The government repeatedly asked the newspaper to publish a reply to the report. The reply was published about a month later, but not in the location or format requested.
El Universo said it published the reply as a journalistic piece, adding it will not pay the fine and asserting its constitutional right to freedom of the press.
The superintendent of communications, which imposed the fine, has issued more than 113 sanctions against the media in Ecuador.
"In the first case, it amended the text and published the letter holders which they considered relevant and in the second, not only changed the titles but cut the text of the letter and published it in parts," Carlos Ochoa, head of the superintendency of communication, said.
In May, the La Hora media outlet was fined $3,540 for not covering an accountability act by city of Loja Mayor José Bolívar Castillo -- citing all mayoral acts should be considered matters of public interest and covered by the media.
Ecuador's communication law punishes "the deliberate and recurrent failure to disseminate issues of public interest" and considers it an act of censorship.