Report to the 70th General Assembly

Santiago, Chile

October 17 – 21, 2014

No serious developments have occurred during this period that could affect the freedom of speech; however, the main threats continue to be bills approved or in discussion at the National Congress.

The act No. 20.750 on digital terrestrial television was approved during this semester. It was being discussed by the Congress since 2008, and was initially intended to regulate the migration of current concessionaries to this new technology. The bill provides attributions to the State to have a saying on the programming and the editorial contents of the TV channel.

The attributions of the National Television Council were excessively enlarged; this entity oversees the functioning of this media and is empowered to request from the stations a specific number of cultural, civilian formation programs and the strengthening of national, regional and local identity. In addition, the stations are forced to promote in their contents specific criteria established by the law, such as social, cultural, ethical, political, religious, sexual orientation and gender diversity, among others.

The bill that sets forth minimum percentages of Chilean music on radio stations is still being discussed; it forces the radios to dedicate at least 20% of their programming to such type of music, which implies intervening their programming.

In connection with the bill that modifies the Law on Personal Data Protection No.19.628, submitted by the Government early in January of 2012: the exclusions of the journalistic exercise and the freedom of expression are not mentioned therein and this is somewhat worrisome. The bill continues to be discussed at the Congress.

The bill could affect mass media, as these would also be subject to the restrictions established by the law. This may bring about a problem similar to that of Spain, where the Data Protection Agency received more than 200 requests to eliminate information contained on the Internet pages run by mass media. Such conflict occurred due to the lack of exclusion of the informative activity within the scope of the law, and it poses the risk of throttling the freedom of the press because it receives and handles without any problem the requests for removal provided by the Law on Data Protection.

Another bill under discussion modifies the law on personal data protection, incorporating the right to forget on the Internet, without excluding mass media.

As mentioned previously, in July of 2013 the Congress passed law 20,606 on "food labeling" aimed at improving the information provided to consumers on the content of food products; advertising "unhealthy food" to children under 14 is forbidden. These are understood as food products with a high content of calories, fat, sugar or salt.

Food advertisement on the media shall convey a message promoting a healthy lifestyle, whose characteristics are determined by the Ministry of Health in a regulation that will be enforced in 2015. This decree provides for the graphical norms this "healthy message" will comply with.

Together with the obligation to convey a healthy message and the warnings on the labels, the new legislation also protects underage from unhealthy food and beverage ads and other commercial strategies. For example, it forbids the advertising – including the offering and free delivery – of food considered "high in", which due to their graphical presentation, symbols and characters is intended for children under 14.