The IAPA Rejects Regulations on Audiovisual Content in Uruguay's Media Law


Miami (May 29, 2024) - The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) expressed its alarm and announced its rejection of an article added at the last minute to an audiovisual media law proposal in Uruguay that imposes regulations on content. The organization urged senators of the ruling party and government authorities to refrain from supporting the initiative, considering it a violation of freedom of expression and press freedom.

On May 14, the Senate approved the legislative proposal by the ruling coalition, whose Article 72 generated criticism and rejection from media outlets, academics, and press organizations, among other sectors, considering it a "step backward" due to its potential negative impact on the exercise of freedom of expression and for violating international standards.

The bill returned to the House of Representatives, which can only reject or accept it in its entirety — it cannot remove that article — or request that the General Assembly (a meeting of both Houses) be convened, where, given the alignment of the various political forces, the initiative would flounder, and the current audiovisual media regulation law would remain in force. The article in question can only be annulled by a veto from the Executive.

The proposed Article 72 states: "Broadcasting services regulated by this law have the duty to provide citizens with information, analysis, opinions, comments, and assessments in a complete, impartial, serious, rigorous, plural, and balanced manner among political actors and concerning them."

"This obligation," notes the bill, "includes all programs and spaces that broadcast analysis, opinions, comments, assessments, and information of a political nature in the broadest sense of the term, including content of governmental, parliamentary, legislative, administrative, party, legal, academic, and electoral scope."

"This demand on audiovisual media and their journalists to provide information, opinions, and comments in a serious, complete, impartial, rigorous, balanced manner is unacceptable," said IAPA President Roberto Rock.

The norm would also limit and harm citizens' right to information, "for all of which it constitutes a blatant attack on freedom of expression in all its forms, a freedom that is the cornerstone for the existence of a democratic society," stated Rock, director of the Mexican news portal La Silla Rota.

Carlos Jornet, President of the IAPA's Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information and editor of the Argentine newspaper La Voz del Interior, added: "At the local level, the organization took immediate and high-level actions to ensure that Article 72 was not supported, as leaving the decision of what is considered 'complete, impartial, serious, rigorous, plural, and balanced' information in the hands of the authorities is extremely dangerous for citizens and the independent press."

IAPA is a non-profit organization dedicated to defending and promoting freedom of the press and expression in the Americas. It comprises more than 1,300 publications from the western hemisphere and is based in Miami, Florida, United States.