Measures aimed at curtailing free speech in Chile did not gain headway during this period. While some developments did cause alarm among the press and the public, there were no major setbacks to report. On the other hand, no major progress was achieved either. Freedom of information — so crucial to press freedom — is no further along in the legislature. Other proposed legislation of concern to the print media, such as the proposed Journalists’ Statute, has not made a progress in Parliament. The main threats to press freedom in Chile are in the legislative arena. There are currently 16 press-related bills under consideration and of these, five or six could have significant repercussions. In addition to legislative proposals, members of the Chamber of Deputies have set up investigative and special committees to address press-related issues. After a year’s work, The Special Investigative Committee on Government Advertising unanimously approved its final report on July 19. The 177-page report discusses various aspects of government advertising, the legal issues involved, the procedure used to place government advertising, and the flaws in this procedure. Among their conclusions, legislators of all political stripes agreed that “government advertising should not and must not serve as a subsidy for media outlets.” The report also describes the procedures used to place government advertising. Basically, a government agency known as Chilecompra calls for bids every six months, and interested media outlets participate in the bidding process. Then, in a decision based solely on circulation and pricing, it selects the media outlets and enters into a framework agreement for placing advertisements in these outlets. The committee criticized the use of the framework agreement as a lone means of contracting, as it found there to be too much room for arbitrariness. Another issue highlighted in the report is the lack of reliable data on the government’s advertising expenditures. It also stated that government advertising is not highly important for media outlets. Various parts of the report underscore the importance of the regional press in disseminating government advertising more broadly, especially if the message is specific to a particular region. Paradoxically, however, the report recommends that certain types of ads be placed on the Internet. The most troubling part of the report, however, is the recommendation that — despite the fact that the importance of government advertising for the media had not been proven, much less that large journalistic conglomerates are dependent on such advertising — a bill be introduced to regulate government advertising and, furthermore, to consider regulations that would strengthen free competition and prevent the concentration of media outlets. This recommendation was denounced by some media outlets as openly discriminatory against the press, which is already subject to a general law on freedom of competition that has applied to all sectors of the economy for the past 30 years. On March 6 of this year, the Chamber of Deputies established the Special Committee on the Media, whose objectives are very broad and poorly defined. It consisted of 13 members of Parliament and was chaired by Jaime Mulet, a member of the Chamber of Deputies who in January of this year filed a lawsuit for damages against the editor, journalists, managers and owners of La Tercera newspaper. This committee is now taking the testimony of people with ties to the media and government officials who work with the media. There have also been a number of significant developments in the courts: On March 26 the Supreme Court issued an order regulating the use of press credentials in the courts and imposing other requirements on journalists, some of which are absolutely absurd, such as requiring that they “avoid hindering the work of judicial personnel or the free movement of the public in court buildings and attached parking areas, refraining from approaching them without their consent or disturbing them by using flash photography or videotaping them.” The overwhelming reaction to the measure led the Supreme Court to reverse this measure four days later. As a result of this controversy, the high court agreed to restructure its Communications Department and hire journalists for this work, in what serves as a sort of liaison between Supreme Court justices and the news media. In a case involving a pedophile who had fled and was sought by police, criminal court judge Olga Quijada of Santiago issued a gag order on May 9, despite the fact that Law 19733 of 2001, better known as the Press Law, had removed judges’ authority to issue such gag orders. Though the gag order was lifted in the wake of the outcry, the judge said she was doing do because the procedure had been completed. On March 30, in the city of Curicó, south of Santiago, a judge banned photography and video recordings from the arraignment of 10 members of the national security forces on charges of unlawful coercion. The ability to ban coverage of oral trials — which is granted in Article 289 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, but has been rightfully criticized by experts and press organizations — is now being extended to the arraignment, which is the phase immediately preceding the trial. On June 6 the Santiago Court of Appeals upheld by three votes to none the decision to prosecute Francisco Martorell, editor of the newspaper El Periodista, for statements made by an interviewee and published in November 2003. Martorell is free on bond but under court order to remain in the country.