Peru code tackles corruption

Auds now guaranteed truth in p'gramming, advertising

SANTIAGO, Chile — Watchdogs are moving to end the corruption in TV in Peru, both on and off the screen.

An agreement signed earlier this month and set to be sent to Congress for approval promises to usher in an ethical code of conduct that will sweep away the lies and trash TV that dominated the airwaves during the government of Alberto Fujimori, when TV stations were blackmailed, bribed and coerced into serving as his attack dogs.

Fujimori, who was president for a decade, fled the country in November. His successor, Alejandro Toledo, is expected to spend much of his first year in office cleaning up his legacy of bribes and extortion.

A half-dozen top television executives already have been arrested or fled the country.

Under the new regs, audiences will be “guaranteed” the truth in programming and advertising. Both programmers and advertisers will be forced to “respect human dignity” and “social responsibility.” How these measures will be enforced remains to be seen.

A university study estimated that at least 10 programs now on the air would be unfit for broadcast under the new ethics regs.

“Right now it is the law of the jungle,” says Federico Anchorena, president of the Union Peruana de Radiodifusion, referring to the lack of industry standards.

He believes it is time for Peru’s radio and TV broadcasters to strengthen their credibility. “In this era of changes in Peru, we have an obligation to be critical,” he says. “This will assure that in the future the stations are not vulnerable. … This is not a problem of the last 10 years; all the governments have wanted to maintain the stations in a weak position.”

Peruvian audiences love scandal-mongering by the likes of talkshow host Laura Bozzo, known as the Latina version of Jerry Springer.

The agreement was signed by Union Peruana de Radiodifusion and the Advertising Assn. of Peru.

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