CHILE The media faced no major hindrances in carrying out their work during this period. There was concern, however, over congressional approval of certain legal provisions in the bill on Freedom of Opinion and Information and Practice ofjournalism which, in fact, could precisely constitute a threat to these freedoms. This bill is still under discussion in Congress. During the discussion of the bill in the Senate the definition of libel was presented. The initiative by Senator Miguel Otero has been unanimously rejected by journalistic institutions, which consider that existing libel statutes already grant people sufficient guarantees to defend their honor and reputation, thus making a new concept off libel unnecessary. The Senate debate due to begin in the coming days about the definition of libel introduces the notion that press freedom abuses can constitute a crime or a quasi-civil offense. Plaintiffs would be able to file civil suits to obtain compensation for damages to their reputation, their health and business losses. Several senators, the majority of whom are not running for re-election, are willing to back Otero's initiative. The president of the National Press Association, Cristiiin Zegers Ariztia, maintained that "none of them is in public life to assume the political responsibility for the damage done to society by this new and incomprehensible 'Gag Law'." The main developments involving press freedom were the following: The government accused two television stations of exercising de facto censorship when they refused to broadcast Health Ministry advertisements on AIDS prevention. Media organizations countered that the print and broadcast media are in all cases within their rights to accept or reject advertisements at odds with their editorial policies since liberty of programming was an essential part of freedom of expression. The TV stations came under further pressure when a group of individuals and institutions filed a formal complaint that their refusal to air the ads was arbitrary and illegal. On June 27, the Santiago Appeals Court dismissed the motion, a decision upheld by the Supreme Court on August 12. The courts stated that, "No authority or individual is allowed to determine the content disseminated by television stations or other news organizations, a right protected by the basic guarantees of the Constitution's Article 19 #12." In addition, both court rulings recognize that freedom of expression means that the owners of news organizations have the freedom of choice to disseminate whatever news or opinions that they consider important or relevant, in line with their principles or editorial policy. In another development, the media protested a judge's order barring the press from reporting on a high-profile drug-trafficking and money-laundering trial. The judge issued the gag order indefinitely without explanation under the terms of Article 25 of the Law on the Abuse of Advertising. On June 30, the Valparaiso Appeals Court overturned the gag order and struck down the publicity law's Article 25 on grounds that it violated Article 19 # 12 of the 1980 Constitution, which guarantees the right of freedom of expression without prior censorship. The Senate's Commission of Constitution, Legislation and Justice has approved an initiative to abolish this norm. There is concern over a resolution issued by the Santiago Court of Appeals chief justice's office that reaffimed that the paramilitary and investigative police and gendarmarie must comply with the terms of Law 18,857 of December 6, 1989. This measure bars police officers from disclosing information on the results of their investigations and the court orders they have to carry out. The Supreme Court ruled that newspaper vendors could not insert advertising supplements into a daily that they were distributing without prior authorization from the newspaper. A Valparaiso press company brought the case after the Regional News Vendors Association was found to have signed a contract to insert into the paper supplements published by Edicom, Compania Editorial S.A. In filing an injunction to the Valparaiso Appeals Court agalnst Edicom and the news vendors, the press company owning the daily said it customarily reviews any inserts slipped into the newspaper to check if there is any advertising abuse for which it could be liable. The Supreme Court ruled that Edicom and the Regional Vendors Association should refrain from inserting booklets, catalogues, supplements or advertising material which had nothing to do with the newspaper. The Supreme Court also considered that the plaintiff's constitutional rights were violated because among other factors the defendants through their actions were able to contribute to the advertising of diverse products without bearing any potential responSibility should some people think that the opinions contained in the inserts were that of the newspaper's publishers.