The president of Uruguay, José Mujica, sent a draft Law on Audiovisual Communication Services to the Congress yesterday. As it states in the bill, the law’s main purpose is “to regulate radio services, television and other audiovisual media” to “build a harmonious audiovisual system with a balanced and fair competition between operators.” The government defines Audiovisual Communication Services (SCA) as cultural services, that also have an economic and strategic role in national development, and therefore are a part of the public interest.
Mujica stated that: “it is the country’s duty to ensure universal access to SCA and contribute to the freedom of information, social inclusion, non-discrimination, the promotion of cultural diversity, education and recreation.”
Another fundamental aspect of the bill is the regulation of monopolies and oligopolies in the ownership and control of broadcasting services, as they “conspire against democracy by limiting the plurality and diversity which ensure the full exercise of the people’s right to information.”
The draft media law also advocates full transparency in the licensing process. It proposes a move from the current “precarious and revocable” to a system of concessions and authorisations that would be “time-bound and renewable.”
Additionally, the law will create an enforcement authority, called the Council of Audiovisual Communication (Consejo de Comunicación Audiovisual – CCA) whose tasks will be “to propose, implement, monitor and enforce compliance with the policies of the system.”
Another proposition is the establishment of minimum national production quotas, measures to regulate inappropriate-content-for-minors schedules and ensure the editorial freedom of expression and information, and above all the independence of the media. It also discusses journalists’ rights, including the possibility “to refuse to submit their name with an image, voice and content of their own that has been modified without their consent.”
The initiative consists of thirteen chapters and 183 articles, and will be debated first in the House of Representatives and then the Senate.