Freedom of the Press
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Press Freedom Score (0 = best, 100 = worst)
Legal Environment(0 = best, 30 = worst)
Political Environment(0 = best, 40 = worst)
Economic Environment(0 = best, 30 = worst)
Uruguayan media covered the October 31 presidential election freely, but press freedom continues to be hampered by the country's criminal laws against defamation. Constitutional guarantees regarding free expression and freedom of the press are generally respected, although these are subject to qualifications for incitement of violence and "insulting the nation." Defamation, contempt, and libel continue to be regarded as criminal offenses punishable by up to three years' imprisonment. In 2004, several court rulings were issued that were in fundamental conflict with constitutional rights of free expression and tended to deepen an environment of self-censorship. Fifteen reporters and three media outlets were criminally prosecuted for publishing news and opinion, and four reporters and one media outlet were forced to pay thousands of dollars in damages to public officials and others who felt offended as a result of published information, even though its accuracy was left unchallenged. However, in October Uruguay's Congress gave its preliminary approval to legislation that would, for the first time, give journalists and the public access to government records. Uruguayans have access to a wide range of political views, with more than 100 private daily and weekly newspapers, many associated with political parties; some 20 television channels; and over 110 radio stations. State enterprises such as the telephone and electric companies tend to distribute advertising money to publications that editorially favor the government, causing some self-censorship.