The Supreme Court still has not ruled on the appeal of the constitutionality of Law 372, which would create a journalists’ colegio (obligatory licensing). The licensing law has not yet been implemented because of disagreements between the two journalists’ association, which the law says would form the colegio. The Supreme Court also has not ruled on an appeal of the closing of the radio station La Poderosa, whose frequency was cancelled for alleged irregularities. According to TELCOR, the government’s regulatory agency, COPROSA, a Catholic Church entity that owns the license, did not appeal the measure. On March 1, La Prensa published a letter from Tirso Moreno Aguilar, a former commander of the Resistance (Contras) who staged an armed attack on the newspaper’s offices on October 22, 2002 and held several journalists hostage. Moreno, who is in jail awaiting a jury trial, apologized “publicly, honestly and sincerely,” saying he was drunk when he attacked the office. In the first week of March there was a public debate about tax breaks for media outlets established in the Constitution. The controversy occurred after Sandinista legislator Bayardo Arce said the tax breaks should be repealed. President Enrique Bolaños, in statements to the press, said those who benefit from the tax breaks should give them up voluntarily and “begin to pay their taxes.” Both La Prensa and El Nuevo Diario said the constitutional tax breaks began as a guarantee of press freedom and protection from possible tax pressure from future governments. Media outlets are taxed on the sale of advertising, purchases (sales tax) and other income and the sale of products like CDs, encyclopedias, etc. President Bolaños later said his remarks had been misinterpreted and that he is not opposed to the tax breaks. Carol Munguía, correspondent of La Prensa in Chinandega, is being sued for libel for publishing news of the arrest of two Nicaraguans in El Salvador. They were tried and freed without charge a week after the news was published. The news of the arrest and subsequent release was published in La Prensa, but the sister of one of the defendants, the wife of a Sandinista legislator, went ahead with the lawsuit. The source of these news stories was La Prensa Gráfica in San Salvador. A proposed Equal Opportunity Law has been reported out of a legislative committee and is now being debated. The discussion of this bill, originally presented in 1999, was been postponed repeatedly because some social groups are opposed to it. They consider that it would legalize abortion, threaten the integrity of the family and impose a quota of 40 percent female staff for all public and private entities, including the media. The law would damage press freedom by creating a state agency to “collaborate” with the media to ensure that they only present women according to the requirements of the law. It would also oversee news policies “with a view to integrating them into gender policy.” (Articles 49 and 50) The bill would also prohibit discriminatory or degrading images, information, news or language concerning women. It would require “full and equitable participation of women in the media and in the management and production of programs” (Article 57). It would demand –“as long as it does not threaten freedom of expression”—regulatory mechanisms for the national and international media to present “a balance between images of men and women” (Article 59) and would apply the same limits to advertising (Article 64). So far, opposition to this Equal Opportunity Law has focused on abortion, the family and hiring quotas. At the beginning of March, radio station Radio Máxima in Masaya was closed by Telcor, the agency that regulates telecommunications, because it allegedly did not comply with the required broadcast schedule and its signal did not cover the minimum area required by law and specified in its license. The radio station’s owner, Carlos Mario Peña is a leader of the Sandinista coalition National Convergence and an opponent of President Enrique Bolaños. Peña complained that his station was closed as a reprisal for his criticism of the pro-government mayor of Masaya, Carlos Iván Hüeck, rather than for technical reasons. Peña appealed the decision to Telcor, and the appeal is pending.