Uruguay | Freedom House

Freedom of the Press

Uruguay

Uruguay

Freedom of the Press 2006

2006 Scores

Press Status

Free

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

28

Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)

9

Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)

11

The constitution guarantees free expression and freedom of the press, and these principles are generally enforced. The new government of President Tabare Vazquez has respected these guarantees, although members of his administration have verbally harassed some journalists. Press freedom continues to be hampered by laws that define defamation, contempt, and libel as offenses punishable by up to three years' imprisonment. In 2005, several reporters and media outlets were criminally prosecuted by lower court judges, but higher courts have overturned most of these rulings, establishing stronger legal grounds for a free press.

Journalists are generally able to cover the news freely, although several of them were subjected to intimidation and violence. On October 17, reporter Marcelo Borrat was abducted, beaten, and threatened with death by unidentified assailants. The journalist had been investigating irregularities in the public health system. In March, Pablo Fernandez, a print and radio reporter, received death threats allegedly on orders of a jailed civil servant. Uruguayans have access to a wide range of political views, but some media outlets have imposed restrictions on journalists' independence. In May, the private television station Channel 12 took off the air the weekly program hosted by Argentinean journalist Jorge Lanata. Although the station claimed that the decision was exclusively economic, the Uruguayan Press Association denounced the case as political censorship.

Uruguay has more than 100 privately owned papers, though some are linked directly to political parties. There are over 100 radio stations and at least 20 television stations, including state-owned radio and television services that are regulated by official broadcasting service, SODRE. Advertising is often used by the government to either reward or punish media outlets. There are no government restrictions on the internet, which is used by over 20 percent of the population.