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Brazil: Court revokes imposition of fines on for pre-election period interview with candidate

Fourteen media outlets have been fined in 2008 by the electoral courts for publishing interviews with those seeking office in the upcoming municipal elections, scheduled for October, or in some cases, even just their photographs. Electoral judges deemed that the media outlets and the politicians were carrying out election advertising before July 6, the official starting date of the campaign.

According to Associação Brasileira de Jornalismo Investigativo (ABRAJI), one of the most well-known cases concerned fines against Veja magazine and Folha de S Paulo, Brazil's largest-circulation newspaper. Each media outlet was fined R$21,282 (approx. US$13,218), for publishing interviews with mayoral candidate Marta Suplicy (Workers' Party, PT). Suplicy was fined R$42,564 (approx. US$ 26,437).

In a press release issued when the fines were imposed, ABRAJI condemned them, saying they constituted a threat to press freedom and noting that there was no law prohibiting newspapers from publishing interviews with individuals seeking election. According to ABRAJI, the interviews did not constitute electoral propaganda.

On June 26, the Superior Electoral Court (Tribunal Superior Electoral, TSE) amended Article 24 which prevented electoral candidates from providing information on their platforms prior to the official start of the campaign. The court also created another article, permitting candidates to give interviews prior to July 6. On July 9, the fines against Veja, Folha de S Paulo, and Suplicy were dropped after another court overthrew the ruling against them.

Date posted: July 15, 2008 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 250