Chile | Freedom House

Freedom of the Press

Chile

Chile

Freedom of the Press 2005

2005 Scores

Press Status

Free

Press Freedom Score
(0 = best, 100 = worst)

24

Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)

10

Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)

6

The Chilean constitution provides for freedom of speech. The media are independent, cover sensitive issues, and freely criticize the government in an atmosphere largely safe from physical threats and intimidation. However, insult (desacato) laws still on the books create difficulties in reporting on government and military authorities. As a result, some self-censorship persists. Chile has no law guaranteeing access to public information. A 2001 press freedom law did away with many of the restrictions on the media imposed by the former dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet, and the media have been vigilant in covering the massive human rights abuses and official financial corruption dating from that period.

Nevertheless, some cases of harassment were reported during the year. In April, police seized two computer hard drives belonging to the online newspaper El Mostrador in connection with an investigation into the bombing a month earlier of the Brazilian consulate in Santiago. In September, the bimonthly magazine El Periodista was robbed of four computers containing accounting and financial information following threats against its director; the intimidation was thought to be linked to the publication's probe of corruption at a municipality outside Santiago. Although state-owned print and broadcast media are generally considered editorially independent, political pressure is sometimes brought to bear. For example, in August the director of the government-owned daily La Nacion was fired, apparently because of his paper's coverage of a pedophile scandal in which senior figures in both ruling and opposition parties were implicated. However, the state-owned Television Nacional network has escaped direct government control, in part because it is self-supported by commercial advertising and is editorially independent. The country's more than 800 radio stations are the primary medium of choice for many Chileans. Almost 90 percent of the print media, while independent of the government, are owned by one of two major media conglomerates.