It is unquestionable that press freedom does exist in Honduras, but it is also true that the unrestricted freedom once enjoyed by the media has been gradually compromised. Actions taken against the press are no longer limited to threats. Journalists have been placed on trial in at least three court cases; two of these have resulted in guilty verdicts, and in one case it is even feared that the reporter may be forced to serve time in prison. Along with these increasing restrictions, there has been a rise in criminal acts related to organized crime. Meanwhile, the media have continued to experience problems obtaining evidence, particularly from government agencies, associated with acts of corruption. The situation has become more difficult as a result of new electoral regulations. The National Board of Elections has moved to classify political reporting as partisan propaganda, thereby seeking to subject the news to legal restrictions on propaganda. Only the National Board of Elections may authorize the publication of advertising related to political parties, movements or candidates, under the threat of fines for media outlets that publish unauthorized advertising. On May 15, the Honduran Congress enacted the Law on Elections and Political Organizations, which for the first time places limits on the period for electoral propaganda and subjects the media to prior restraint. Article 144 limits the electoral propaganda period to fifty (50) days prior to the day of internal and primary elections, and ninety (90) days prior to the general elections. “Outside the periods established under this article, all electoral propaganda conducted through television, radio, print newspapers, magazines, advertising spaces in public areas, fixed or mobile speakers, and public gatherings is hereby prohibited.” Also, Article 145 of this law regulates surveys and opinion polls for the first time. It states that “the results of surveys or opinion polls may not be published within fifty (50) days prior to primary elections and ninety (90) days prior to general elections.” It also requires companies carrying out surveys to register with the National Board of Elections and reveal the “methods and procedures used in conducting the surveys for prior authorization within a period of no more than five (5) business days.” This requirement runs contrary to the Law on Expression of Thought. After coming under pressure from the media and civil society, the Honduran Congress voted not to put into law the concept of habeas data, which had been approved by the legislature in its first session. Under comparative law, habeas data is a guarantee protecting such rights as a one’s good name, reputation, privacy and right to obtain information, but under no circumstances may this affect reporters’ databases or news sources. Carlos Mauricio Flores, editor of the newspaper El Heraldo, was sued for libel last May after publishing an investigative news report related to drug and weapons trafficking from Honduras to Colombia. The lawsuit was filed by lawyer Gloria Maritza García Suárez, whose name was mentioned in the article. The report, published on October 20, 2003, exposed the alleged ties of Honduran drug traffickers with members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). According to the article, the link in this relationship is a person identified as Ethalson Mejía Hoy of Colombia, whose legal representative is García Suárez. The lawsuit included settlement hearings that for two months kept the case from going to trial. Ethalson Mejía is now on the run from Honduran authorities, and his lawyer is wanted in Colombia, according to Interpol reports. On August 5, 2004, journalist Adolfo Hernández was convicted of libel after questioning the results of an audience ratings survey published by the Honduran Association of Advertising Agencies (APAH) in which his program was listed near the bottom of the ratings. Hernández is the producer of the television program No se deje on Corporación Maya TV, Channel 66, in Tegucigalpa, and he was sued by APAH president Fernando Mass, who claimed that the journalist had damaged his reputation and committed libel by overstepping his bounds in his comments. Hernández’s conviction is the third one against a journalist this year. Also convicted of libel were journalists Rodrigo Wong Arévalo, president and producer of the television program Abriendo Brecha and editor of four magazines with nationwide circulation, and Renato Álvarez, host of the program Frente a Frente. There is a great deal of tension in the media due to the potential debate on the Freedom of Information Act being prepared by the National Anticorruption Council under the guise of preventing corruption. The provisions of this bill place journalistic activity under the threat of prison terms and fines. On October 1 at about 7:00 pm, bullets were fired at the facilities of the newspaper La Tribuna in Tegucigalpa. No one was injured in this incident. It was reported that the bullets were accidentally fired by a police officer traveling in a police car while on patrol in one of the neighborhoods near the headquarters of La Tribuna, and that his weapon went off while he was handling it. Since May the media have been facing persisting problems as a result of the new Electoral Law, under which all news reporting related to politicians is to be classified as political propaganda. Members of the National Board of Elections have been contacting media outlets in an unofficial capacity to ask them not to run certain news items, issuing veiled threats of legal action. Journalist Adolfo Hernández, producer of the television program No se deje, is awaiting sentencing following his conviction for libel. Furthermore, a warrant is expected to be issued for the arrest of journalist Arnulfo Aguilar, producer of Radio Uno, for a piece involving a former judge, Telma Mejía de Zerón. Also pending is the lawsuit against journalist Serapio Umanzor for news articles he had written on the involvement of legislator Francisco Herrera Donnineli and his family in the fraudulent acquisition of private property.