In this period the press was able to operate without restrictions and the biggest threats concerned legal initiatives which if passed by the National Congress could restrict the press. Two examples of this are a bill to regulate unhealthy foodstuffs and one seeking to regulate advertising and making offers with regard to proposed environmental projects. If adopted these bills could involve excessive rules for news media and curtail freedom of expression in advertising. In another development the press has had to face difficulties in doing its job covering demonstrations and protests that have been staged by groups of students in recent months, in which a call has been made for reforms of the country’s educational system and which have in many cases erupted in acts of violence. The Constitutional Court denied a plea for Clause 2331 of the Civil Code to be declared unconstitutional. The clause regulates the award of damages in the event of proof of the existence of libel and defamation and which excludes damages for injury to one’s reputation. It also establishes the concept of “exceptio veritatis” – dismissal of a libel suit based on proving the truth of an allegedly defamatory statement. The Court decided to dismiss the action on failing to reach a quorum among its justices as required under the Constitution to declare something unconstitutional. Thus efforts to put an end to a threat to freedom of expression failed--the lack of limits on payment of damages that can be claimed for information contained in news media content would, through a multiplication of libel suits claiming unlimited amounts of damages, prevent or restrict media investigating or publishing information that could affect a person or business. Even so, the Constitutional Court ruled that in three specific suits seeking damages the above-mentioned law could be regarded as unconstitutional, thus huge sums in damages for harm to reputation will not be able to be sought. A number of bills have been introduced in Congress seeking to amend laws governing advertising that could have negative effects for freedom of the press. The first one proposes putting restrictions on advertising, sales and promotion to minors under 18 years of age in primary, secondary and higher education of products described as “high in fat, salt, etc.” This bill was passed by Congress and was vetoed by the executive branch, which limited the restrictions on advertising but kept those referring to minors. Another bill seeks to amend the Law on Production, Commercialization and Sale of Alcoholic Beverages, banning advertising directed to minors and also its employment at sports, recreation and cultural activities. A third seeks amendment to the Law on Environmental Bases, establishing that before the environmental agency issues any decision on a proposed project its proponents “shall abstain from making offers, issuing promises, giving gifts or carrying out activities to the economic benefit of the community where the environmental impact would be. Neither shall they be able to conduct any kind of advertising through any news media outlet regarding the project under review.” This would mean that a company which intends to bid for an energy project would not be able to publish ads explaining its potential benefits and environmental mitigation measures. Nevertheless, this limitation does not prevent opponents of such energy projects from publishing their stance in the media. The same bill says that if this ban were not heeded the competent authority would be empowered to reject the project without giving any other reason for doing so. If approval is given to the ban on advertising prior to the evaluation this would deprive the people of the right to information; moreover, a statute of this kind would go against constitutional guarantees, such as equality under the law, freedom of opinion without prior censorship, the right to opinion, and the right to engage in any economic activity. In another development, for several months now there have been demonstrations and protests in Chile led by student groups seeking to bring about reforms of the Chilean education system, at both school and university levels. In this context, the press has had to overcome some difficulties, with reporters being restricted in their work by attacks of various kinds. On some occasions they have been threatened and even assaulted by demonstrators. It is important to continue monitoring this situation, so as to be able to ensure the ability of journalists to do their job in a correct and unfettered manner.