About that hidden camera
Leer en español.
JUST THREE WEEKS AFTER Chile dropped 47 places in the Reporters Without Borders' global press-freedom rankings, Chilean news media were again rocked by controversy. The debate was spawned by Channel 13's CEO who abruptly blocked the broadcast of the second part of a hidden-camera report by the main edition of its news department.
Let's take this step by step. A decade ago, Channel 13 was the country's most important channel. At that time, it was owned by the Pontificial Catholic University of Chile, and it had maintained a clearly conservative editorial tone tied to the Catholic Church.
The channel gradually lost its privileged position, and the Catholic University was forced to sell the channel to one of the richest businessmen in the country, Andrónio Luksic, for just over $60 million two years ago.
The channel began to recover in the ratings, but its news operations were not the equal of its competitors. With the infusion of money from the new owner, the channel brought over practically all of the heads of TVN, the public station that had enjoyed the largest news viewership. But the experiment failed in less than a year, and the head of news operations, Jorge Cabezas, was fired.
Channel 13 then announced the arrival of a new era of reporting independence by bringing back a prodigal son who had spent a few years at CNN Chile, Ramón Ulloa. At the same time, Channel 13 merged its most important news program "Contacto" with "Teletrece" (a play on the Spanish word for "13"), to become a show that would broadcast twice a week.
In its first week on the air, Teletrece aired a report covering discrimination in Chile.
Using a hidden camera, a woman dressed as a domestic employee visited each of the ten most exclusive high schools in Santiago to apply for admission. None of the schools even allowed her to come through the front door, and they mistreated the actress as well.
In another case, two actresses in roles of boss and employee went to a supermarket where the "boss" treated her "employee" very badly. The hidden cameras recorded the public's reaction.
At the conclusion of part one, journalist Emilio Sutherland showed a teaser for part two, where the actress dressed as a domestic employee would attempt to find a taxi.
This second part never aired. René Cortázar, CEO of Channel 13, ordered a halt to the broadcast. The following day, the show aired a rerun of part one of the hidden-camera investigation.
That same day, the head of news operations and news editor of Teletrece both resigned. The rest of the news department signed and sent a letter of protest the leadership of Channel 13, calling the decision censorship that directly attacked the independence of the network's information services.
The situation has generated tremendous debate, especially in media opinion pages and in social media. This link (Spanish) will give you a good idea of the discussion.
Basically, there are two main threads in the argument: