Colombia · Decision · Judicial

Red Papaz v. Caracol Televisión S.A. and RCN Televisión S.A. (Judgement T-145/19)

Issue:

Whether the censorship of the communication campaign "Don’t eat any more lies” (No Comas Más Mentiras) by the tv channels Caracol Televisión S.A. and RCN Televisión S.A. was in violation of the fundamental rights to freedom of expression, information, and equality, as well as children's right to receive adequate information to take decisions to protect their right to a balanced diet, health, and life.

Summary:

In 2017, civil society organization Red Papaz launched a public campaign called “Don’t eat any more lies” (No Comas Más Mentiras) to support the legislative efforts taking place and to inform consumers about the risks of frequently eating ultraprocessed foods, and particularly foods high in sodium, sugar, or saturated fats. In April 2018, Red Papaz requested that their video message be transmitted by the tv channels Caracol Televisión S.A. and RCN Televisión S.A. The request was denied, first on technical grounds, and then because its content was deemed too controversial.

In May 2018 Red Papaz started a lawsuit [acción de tutela] in administrative courts for violation violation of the fundamental rights to freedom of expression, information, and equality, as well as children’s right to receive adequate information to take decisions to protect their right to a balanced diet, health, and life. The complaint was resolved on appeal in the administrative court in favor of Red PaPaz.

By this judgement, in 2019 the Constitutional Court [Corte Constitucional] ratified the decision of the administrative court in favor of Red Papaz. The Court considered that even though the campaign could influence consumption decisions, it is an informative message, and it cannot be considered advertising; the campaign intends to warn about the adverse effects of regular consumption of ultraprocessed products high in fats, sugar or sodium. The Court also emphasized that in a conflict between commercial rights and rights of vulnerable groups such as children; TV stations, as part of a public system, should prioritize the children’s rights.