Uruguay: Latest Developments And Discussions Regarding Law 19.307 On Audiovisual Communication Services (Aka The "Media Law")

In December 2014, within a regional context that pointed the way towards the regulation of the audiovisual media, the Uruguayan Parliament passed Law 19,307 which regulates Audiovisual Communication Services and is popularly known as the Media Law (the "Law").

The passing of the Law resulted in the submission of more than a dozen unconstitutionality proceedings before the Supreme Court of Justice ("SCJ"), challenging the constitutionality of the Law in general as well as of several of its articles in particular. The latter were filed by various claimants, such as paid television service companies and other broadcasting companies, a union that groups and represents private broadcasters and television, and political parties.

All actions based their basis on different articles challenged by the specific interests of each claimant, however they all had the same goal, to bring down the Law as such for understanding that it sought to restrict freedoms constitutionally granted.

The unconstitutionality proceedings

In Uruguay, every unconstitutionality process against a law implies, prior to analysis of the case by the SCJ Judges, the issuance of an opinion from the Public Prosecutor.

The participation of the Public Prosecutor, although mandatory, does not oblige the SCJ Judges regarding the analysis of the claim or the ruling finally issued. Notwithstanding the foregoing, in the past the SCJ has not strayed too far from the opinion issued by the Prosecutor.

The latter has already commented on some of the actions, being of special interest its opinion on two of them.

The first filed by a political party, in which the Prosecutor rejected the claim of unconstitutionality initiated in connection with the article governing free electoral advertising rates for each political party in terms of votes in the previous elections1.

The second submitted by a paid television service company, regarding which he understood that five articles and certain subsections of nine articles infringed the Constitution.


Provisions considered unconstitutional provisions by the Public Prosecutor

The Prosecutor understood that articles considered as unconstitutional infringed articles 72, 323 and 364 of the Uruguayan Constitution. Following are those considered as more relevant and the grounds set forth by the Prosecutor:

  • Article 33 F) 5: the provision disregards any reference to content or advertising material issued and focuses exclusively on the modalities of its broadcasting to such a degree of generality that it affects the rights claimed. Also, because of the degree of generality of the provision the true scope of the term "non-traditional" becomes doubtful, making the prohibitive rule vague affecting the principles of criminality, legality and legal certainty.
  • Articles 39 (subsection 3) 6 and 407: enable the Council of Audiovisual Communication ("CCA") without time limit requirements to advise the Executive Branch on those programs that it construes as public interest. The Law sets no guidelines or parameters that the CCA should serve not to injure the property rights of the broadcasting company. The intervention of the company holding the exclusive rights to broadcast is not included. It represents an expropriation without just compensation in advance of any kind.
  • Article 558: its wording distorts the free play of market, which undermines businesses that collect large numbers of subscribers as a consequence of their lower costs and the quality of their signal, and potential users lose freedom to choose the option that suits them better and is more accessible.
  • Articles 1809 and 18210: the amount of the penalty is graduated considering inaccurate aspects such as social impact. The penalty is graded based on an imaginary impact and estimated impact on an estimated audience.

Next steps

The Prosecutor shall analyze all proceedings initiated by the different claimants and issue his opinion within each of the proceedings. Subsequently, the SCJ ought to assess both the issues raised by the claimants as well as the opinion of the Public Prosecutor in order to finally issue a Ruling on the constitutionality that covers and contemplates each and every article challenged within all proceedings.

The SCJ has not, to this date, emitted a formal nor informal opinion nor a ruling on any of the claims.

It must be underlined that its opinion on the subject is of a special importance not only for the claimants but also for the Government, which has already stated that it will not pass the Law's regulatory decree until the SCJ has made official its opinion on each of the challenged articles. Accordingly, there is still a long way to go before knowing the last of this story...


1. Article 143 (Distribution among the political slogans (political aggrupation) .- In cases of national elections and supplementary elections, free spaces will be distributed among the slogans as follows: -20% (twenty percent) shall be divided equally among all slogans presented to the election; - 80% (eighty percent) will be distributed directly to the votes obtained by each slogan on national elections immediately preceding ratio. In the case of by-election of President and Vice President will eventually be divided equally between the two presidential tickets. For departmental and local elections, the free space will be distributed among the slogans as follows: - 20% (twenty percent) shall be divided equally among all the slogans presented to the election; -80% (Eighty percent) will be distributed directly to the votes obtained by each theme in the immediately preceding ratio departmental and local elections. In the case of internal elections, free spaces will be distributed among the slogans of the following combined: A) A party aimed at national internal elections, corresponding to two thirds (2/3) of the time allotted to free spaces as Article 142 of this law, which is distributed among the slogans on the same basis established for national elections. B) Another part, in addition to the above, intended for departmental primaries corresponding to 1/3 (one third) of the time allotted to free spaces under Article 142 of this law, which is distributed among the slogans as the same criteria established for departmental and local elections. In all national legislative complementary, departmental and local, and internal elections, for the distribution of space among the slogans the procedure established by Article 5 of Law No. 7,912, of October 22 1925 shall apply the distribution of space among the slogans will be made by the Council of Audiovisual Communication.

2.Article 7. The inhabitants of the Republic have the right of protection in the enjoyment of life, honor, liberty, security, labor, and property. No one may be deprived of these rights except in conformity with laws which may be enacted for reasons of general interest.

3.Article 32. The right of property is inviolable, but it is subject to laws enacted in the general interest. No one may be deprived of his property rights except in case of public necessity or utility established by law, and the National Treasury shall always pay just compensation in advance. Whenever expropriation is ordered for reasons of public necessity or utility, the property owners shall be indemnified for loss or damages they may suffer on account of delay, whether the expropriation is actually carried out or not, including those incurred because of variations in the value of the currency.

4.Article 36. Every person may engage in labor, farming, industry, commerce, a profession, or any other lawful activity, save for the limitations imposed by general interest which the law may enact.

5.Article 33: (Advertising aimed at children and adolescents) .- In response to the protection of the rights of children and adolescents, advertisements should not cause them moral or physical harm. Accordingly, issue the following limitations: (...) F) It is prohibited the emission of non-traditional advertising in children's programs with the exception of product placement and sponsorship.

6.Article 39: (Events of general interest) .- If events are broadcasted on television involving official activities of the national teams football and basketball in defining instances of international tournaments and qualifying bodies to them, such events must be broadcasted through an open television broadcasting service in and direct and simultaneous service. For these events the exercise of exclusive rights shall be limited to in those localities of the country where this condition are not met. In these cases, and if there is no other provider interested in the broadcasting, the Public System of National Radio and Television should take care to ensure the rights established in the preceding article, whenever technically possible and in the mode of transmission. The Executive Branch exceptionally may, by grounded decision and prior report of the Council of Audiovisual Communication, include additional events in this mode.

7.Article 40 (Conditions for the broadcasting or retransmission of events of general interest) .- In the event that no holder of open TV broadcasting services is interested in acquiring the rights of broadcasting or retransmission of the event, the rightholder shall authorize Public System of National Radio and Television to broadcast the event for free. This retransmission must be performed without interruption, including advertising messages embedded in rightholder signal delivered. If the event organizer was not established in Uruguay, the access obligation lies with the owner of the exclusive rights to assume the live broadcast.

8.Article 55 (Limitations on the number of subscribers of pay TV services) .- Total subscribers of paid TV companies authorized throughout the national territory may not exceed 25% (twenty five percent) of total pay TV households across the country. Total subscribers of paid TV companies authorized throughout the national territory may not exceed 35% (thirty five percent) of all households with pay TV in each territory where there are other authorizations or licenses for less scope. In both cases the total of households with pay TV will be determined according to data from the last census of the National Statistics Institute.

9.Article 181 (Types of sanctions) .- The commission of infractions will result in the application of the sanctions listed below, which are graduated according to the severity and considering the existence of recidivism: A) Observation. B) Warning. C) Confiscation of items used to commit the offense or assets found in violation, a penalty that can be applied exclusively or ancillary to other previews. D) Fine. E) Suspension of up to ninety days in providing activity, in cases of very serious offenses. F) Revocation of the concession, authorization, license or registration as provided in Article 183 of this law.

10.Article 182 (Fines) .- The amount of the penalty imposed will be graduated taking into account: a) the seriousness of the offenses previously committed by the subject to be punished B) The economic loss and social impact caused to users and consumers by the violations. This impact will be weighted taking into account the potential audience of television or radio service as well as the average total audience of actual radio or television audience in the hours during which the offense occurred, if this was applicable. C) The benefit reported to the offender by the fact object of the infringement. The maximum amount of the fine will be 10,000 UR (ten thousand indexed units). Consensual and final decisions imposing financial penalties in accordance with the provisions of this law, shall be enforceable for all purposes. The elaboration of the table for the graduation of the penalty's fine will be based on the criteria laid down in this law for the purpose of ensuring the proper implementation by the Administration, shall be subject to regulations issued in due course.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Related Topics
Related Articles
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions