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Political Affiliations

There is a generally strong relationship between the media and politics: media owners participate actively in the country’s political and public sphere and it is common to find people who have held public office by election or appointment among the members of the boards of directors and the shareholders of media companies.

For example, Juan Gómez, former director of El Colombiano, was mayor of Medellín, governor of Antioquia, minister of tranpsort, senator and ambassador. Alejandro Char, owner of Organización Radial Olímpica (ORO), was mayor of Barranquilla from 2008-2011 and has been reelected in 2015. Similarly, ORO founder Fuad Char was a senator in 1991, governor of the department Atlántico in 1984, Minister for Development from 1986 to 1990 and in 2004, he became one of the founders of the Party "Cambio Racidal" (engl. "Radical Change").

The relationship with politics is even closer in the press sector since many newspapers have been driven by political parties. The relationship becomes also evident, when changes in the structures of media organizations are being made in accordance with the owner's editorial preferences. For example, when Luís Carlos Sarmiento Angulo purchased El Tiempo outright, he changed the board members and incorporated people he trusted and who, whilst lacking experience in journalism, had significant political influence as ministers or ambassadors. He also appointed members of his own family.

Business groups and their owners contribute financially to the electoral campaigns of the candidates of their preference. For example, Luís Carlos Sarmiento Angulo supported the presidential campaign of Álvaro Uribe. Carlos Ardila Lülle did the same and has also supported a candidate in the last four campaigns.

The so called autopauta—the placing of a financial group’s advertising on media owned by the very same group itsself, sometimes to the exclusion of advertising by other companies—is another important issue of Colombia’s media industry.

The censorship of journalists through media owners is also common, a famous  case was when an El Colombiano reporter was censured by the company’s mayority shareholders.

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