The drafting of a bill for a press law was the center of attention not only because of its contents but due to contradictory statements made by members of the government who have made what will be its final outcome a mystery. What was positive, however, was the declaration by President José Mujica that he would throw into the waste paper basket any Press Law he was presented with. Mujica was unequivocal when on December 6, in an interview with the Buenos Aires, Argentina, newspaper La Nación in which he was asked about a press law, he declared, “I am the President of the Republic. I’m fed up with that question! Fed up! Absolutely nothing has reached the President of the Republic. The day it reaches me I have already said I will throw it in the waste paper basket.” Vice President Danilo Astori spoke similarly. Nevertheless, a committee under the aegis of the Telecommunications Department continued working in silence on a Media Law on Audiovisual Communication Services to regulate the operation of the so-called Audiovisual Communication Services, which are defined as those “whose principal objective is to provide programs aimed at informing, entertaining or educating, through electronic communications, television or radio networks, by means of a stable and permanent offering of content, on the basis of a programming timetable.” This committee has sent to the National Telecommunications Department the general guidelines of a future Media Law, but to date this has not been turned into a legislative bill. It includes suggestions very much resisted by privately-owned radio and television stations, such as the grant of broadcast licenses for a 10-year period, which currently does not exist. In this regard, the Association of Inland Radio Stations of Uruguay (RAMI), which is made up of 140 stations outside the capital, Montevideo, made public its rejection of the 10-year term, on the understanding that “for a journalistic and commercial undertaking to have prestige and recognition among the audience it takes years, and to set term limits is arbitrary.” Other controversial suggestions, such as a content policy that would also include pay-for-view television, were contained in the report, although it is worth repeating that for now what have been agreed by the committee are only expressions of ideas. The references by the President to this matter have been limited to one saying, “The only thing that worries me is that the Uruguayan media gets into the hands of some multinational from abroad. We certainly have problems in our land, but the chaff has to be separated from the wheat.” A development that caused a stir among the media was a decision by the power company (UTE) to cut off the supply of electricity on January 12 to a radio station, CX 36, regarded as being radically leftwing and characterized by its harsh attacks on the government. The motive was the debt that the radio station had with UTE. This would have gone unnoticed if there had not existed a previous case involving the government newspaper La República. While the radio station opted (voluntarily and “like any good neighbor,” according to its director) to pay in order to continue on air, La República’s debt was refinanced and it was allowed to pay at least part of it with publication of the power company’s official advertising. The radio station’s debt amounted to 287,000 pesos (some $14,000), while that of the newspaper was 6.5 million pesos (around $325,00). This was a “mean and cowardly persecution of CX 36,” its director, Sandra Berón, said, “because it is the only radio station opposing the government.” On January 25 President Mujica warned of the existence of a campaign by some news media to undermine his government. The newspaper Ultimas Noticias said that Mujica’s reaction was due to reports appearing in the papers El País and La Diaria that spoke of problems and confrontations between the Assistant Secretary of the Presidency and the Finance Minister. Following a story on February 4 in the magazine Crasa y Caretas titled “The Offensive of Those Under Investigation” by journalist Roger Rodríguez reporting on a “Freedom and Concord” forum held some weeks Ultimas Noticias earlier to defend members of the military who are being put on trial, a retired soldier quoted in the report published online all the journalist’s personal details, including a map identifying the location of his home. Rodríguez is a journalist known for his denunciations of human rights violations committed during the 1973-85 military dictatorship. On February 10 the IAPA protested the intimidation attempt and threats made to Rodríguez by retired members of the military on the social media Facebook, saying that these were akin to the “intolerant attitudes and forces of the past when those in power did not respect the law, the Constitution and much less freedom of expression.” On February 9 the Newspapers Association of Uruguay (Adypu), made up of the dailies El País, El Observador and and the weeklies Búsqueda and Brecha, expressed its concern at the decision of President Mujica to call only a state-owned newspaper and four television channels to a press conference held on February 2 to report on a matter of general public interest, the Value Added Tax (VAT) system. In the Presidency’s press office it was confirmed to the Associated Press news agency that the decision had been made by Mujica himself. On February 14 a court convicted journalist Alvaro Alfonso and sentenced him to 24 months in prison on a charge of libel. The sentence allowed him to remain out on parole but under court control. Tenth Criminal Court Judge Rolando Vomero said that thanks to witnesses it had been “fully proven” that the information published by Alfonso on page 181 of his book titled “Secretos del Partido Comunista del Uruguay” (Secrets of the Uruguayan Communist Party) was false. Alfonso said that military sources had confided to him that Communist militant Carlos Tutzó had collaborated with the armed forces during the dictatorship in Uruguay. The judge held that Alfonso had acted with intent to harm Tutzó. Prosecutor Ana Tellechea argued that he had “knowingly and willingly” attributed an “offensive” conduct to Tutzó. The defense appealed the conviction. It should be pointed out regarding this episode that Tellechea had also requested the impoundment of all copies of Alfonso’s book, but this was denied by the judge, who said, “There is no place for such a request. We have before us a book in which there are a few lines in which a person is libeled. In the judgment of the one making the decision to prevent the sale of a book would be to ignore freedom of expression.”