Report to the Midyear Meeting
April 19-21 2022
This period has been influenced by the constituent process. In this context, several issues have an impact on press freedom.

The Constitutional Convention began on July 4, 2021. In the first three months, the operating regulations were approved: its operation, the ethical control of the constituents, the mechanisms of dissemination and participation of native peoples, and controls on expenses.

The Convention has seven commissions, two of which have a direct impact on freedom of information: the "Committee on Fundamental Rights" - whose mission is to define the statute of freedom of expression; and the "Committee on Knowledge Systems, Cultures, Science, Technology, Arts and Heritage" - which makes proposals on the regulation of the media.

Both committees approved moderate initiatives, moving away from the original possibility of enshrining a "right to communication" - which generated considerable debate and concern.

The Constitutional Convention will culminate on July 4 and the plebiscite to approve it will be on September 4.

Some paragraphs or paragraphs that enshrine freedom of expression and of the press are still pending approval in the Fundamental Rights Committee. Article 8 was approved, in agreement with international standards on press freedom: "Right to freedom of expression. Every person, natural or legal, has the right to freedom of expression and opinion, in any form and by any means. This right includes the freedom to seek, receive and disseminate information and ideas of all sorts. There shall be no prior censorship - but only the subsequent responsibilities determined by law."

The sections on control of media concentration and hate speech are in the process of being changed. The Knowledge Committee drafted the "right to communication," which, contrary to what its name suggests, has a more libertarian logic than other Latin American versions - since it doesn't establish overt interventions by the State regarding contents or editorial freedom of the media.

The text, so far approved establishes: "Article 1.- Right to social communication. Every person, individually or collectively, has the right to produce information and to participate equitably in social communication. The right to found and maintain communication and information media is recognized. Article 2.- The State shall respect press freedom, promote media pluralism and diversity of information. Prior censorship is prohibited. Article 3.- Concentration of media ownership. The State shall prevent the concentration of ownership of the media and information. Under no circumstances may a state monopoly be established over them. The law shall be responsible for safeguarding this precept. Article 4.- Promotion of communication and information media. The State shall encourage the creation of communication and information media and their development at the regional, local and community levels. Article 8.- Any person offended or unjustly alluded to by a communication and information outlet has the right to have his or her clarification or rectification disseminated free of charge by the same media outlet in which it was published. The law shall regulate the exercise of this right, fully respecting freedom of expression. Article 23.- All persons have the right to participate in a digital space free of violence. The State shall develop actions of prevention, promotion, reparation and guarantee of this right, granting special protection to women, girls, boys, young people and gender dissidents. The obligations, conditions and limits in this matter shall be determined by law. Article 9.- Right to the Protection of Personal Data. All persons have the right to the protection of personal data - to know, decide and control the use of information concerning them."

Also, as part of the Knowledge Committee, these provisions are expected to be considered: General regulations for radio and television licenses.
Creation of a single regulatory body for telecommunications and digital platforms. Part of the initial proposal includes powers to control the content of licensed media, and anyone who has a digital presence.
Creation of a coordinating body for policies related to the public media created. Formulation of the responsibilities of the National Television Council - currently in existence - which has powers in matters of television content.

It should be noted that in terms of frequency regulation, the initiatives point towards recognizing it as a national asset for public use, administered by the State. However, it is uncertain whether the right of ownership over the licenses - as it is currently understood - will be respected. If the right of ownership over the license were to be stripped -as the convention proposes-, radio and television stations would find themselves in a precarious situation in terms of their legal protection and acquired rights.

Some proposals on regulatory entities for the audiovisual media are of concern. A broad or ambiguous constitutional definition could pave the way for subsequent regulation affecting the content of the media.