NICARAGUA The press' tension with the Executive branch persists, reaching a new peak on June 14 when El Nuevo Diario presidential beat reporter Mario Mariena Martinez was prevented from entering the site where President Arnoldo Aleman was giving a news conference. A statement by presidential communications secretariat said the government had suspended the journalist from the beat for his improper attitude and said this did not "infringe the freedom of press of this important national daily." Presidential Secretary Gilberto Wong said he had asked the managing editor of the paper to assign another journalist, but the editor said they reached no agreement. An El Nuevo Diario editorial protested the government action, saying that the paper "will not surrender its right to assign journalists to their beats." On May 3, a new daily, La Naticia, began publishing. The paper is promoted by a group of political allies of President Aleman and is subsidized by government advertising, even though it only accounts for 1.43 per cent of the total print media circulation in the country, according to a survey conducted in May by the Nicaraguan Association of Advertising Agencies (ONAP). However, in June, La Naticia accounted for 24.98 per cent of government placed advertising in the print media and only 2.01 percent of advertising bought by private companies. But the two developments which could pose the greatest danger to press freedom have not yet surfaced publicly. They are the licensing of journalists and a new Criminal Code that would presumably harden the section on libel and slander. The Sandinista-launched Nicaraguan Journalists Union (UPN), together with leaders and members of the Nicaraguan Journalists' Association (APN), revived a bill to license journalists. The measure, entitled the Law to Create the Colegio of Journalists of Nicaragua, was passed in the National Assembly in 1996, but its enabling legislation was not enacted. Separately, a prospective threat to press freedom is a draft criminai code, under consideration by the Justice Committee of the National Assembly. According to preliminary unconfirmed reports, the proposed legislation would markedly strengthen penalties for slander and libel. In mid-July Vice President Enrique Bolanos stated there should be more control over the media. On a separate occasion, he advocated modifying Article 68 of the Constitution, which exempts the media from taxes on importing newsprint, machinery, equipment and spare parts intended for use by the print and broadcast media. Bolanos asked if a founder of a bread factory has to pay taxes, why shouldn't media companies do the same. The government's hostility against the independent media, in particular La Prensa, is driven by the independent media's reporting of alleged corruption in the Liberal Party-run government. The president's repeated criticism of La Prensa is the prime example of its antagonism against the paper. Another instance was that Customs slapped excessive taxes on compact discs distributed to the daily's readers. The government has also reduced its placement of advertising in the paper. While the government has exempted other media businesses' motor vehicles, it has not issued resolutions exempting La Prensa's vehicles, a benefit to which it is entitled under Article 68 of the Constitution and the reform of the Tax Law. After returning from a tour of the Atlantic coast region, President Aleman threatened to revoke the licenses of television stations if they failed to broadcast to the entire country. It would be unprofitable for all television stations to broadcast to the extensive Atlantic region, hugging the Caribbean, owing to its sparse population and poor communications access to the rest of the country.