The press is vibrant and highly active in serving as a watchdog by reporting on issues that limit press freedom in the country. Legally, press freedom is provided for in the constitution. However, libel is a criminal offense and is frequently used to harass journalists. In numerous cases, journalists were verbally intimidated and physically assaulted for carrying out their duties during the year. Most cases involved journalists who had reported on corruption involving government officials. The ongoing economic crisis has placed a heavy burden on print media, especially smaller independent newspapers. The government imposition of a value-added tax (VAT) on all media sales in 2001 has suffocated newspapers and put many in danger of collapse. Before the tax was imposed, print media were required to pay VAT only on advertising revenues. Losses in circulation and advertising revenues resulting from the new VAT requirements have drastically reduced the income of the print press. True press independence continues to be jeopardized by monthly stipends reportedly paid covertly by the state intelligence agency to dozens of reporters and editors, as well as by recent trends in the concentration of media ownership.