The Belizean constitution guarantees freedom of thought and expression. Nevertheless, the constitution permits the enactment of laws to make "reasonable provision" for limiting freedom of expression in the interests of defense, public safety, order, morality, health, and protection of reputations, rights, and freedoms of other persons. Despite the constitution's guarantees, there have been a number of controversies over access to broadcast media for political campaigns and over charges that the former UDP government used the libel laws to intimidate the PUP.
No daily newspapers were published in Belize. Several weeklies were published but most of these were closely linked to political parties. As of early 1991, Amandala was the newspaper with the largest circulation: about 8,500. The paper's editorial line reflected the involvement of its owner and editor, Evan X. Hyde, in the Creole and black consciousness movement in Belize. The Belize Times, controlled by George Price, functioned as the official organ of the PUP. Published since 1956, the newspaper had a circulation of about 7,000 as of early 1991. The official UDP newspaper was the People's Pulse. Owned outright by the UDP, it began publication in 1988 and had a circulation of 5,000 by early 1991. The pro-business Reporter, with a circulation of 5,000 in early 1991, was once an organ of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry but was later bought by a group of businessmen and became an independent publication. The government published a weekly, the Government Gazette. Other publications included Belize Today, published monthly by the Belize Information Service; the Chamber Update, published monthly by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry; monthly newspapers published by the Anglican and the Roman Catholic churches; the quarterly National Newsmagazine; and Spearhead, a quarterly published by SPEAR.
A second, and older, pro-UPD paper, Beacon, suspended publication following the UDP's defeat in September 1989. Beacon, which had a circulation of 4,200 in 1989, was not controlled directly by the UDP, but by Dean Lindo, a minister in the Esquivel government. A PUP-affiliated paper, Disweek, ceased publication after the PUP's 1984 electoral defeat. The fate of Disweek and Beacon points to the dependence of Belizean newspapers on revenue from government-linked advertising. Opposition papers, therefore, could not count on this type of advertising revenue.
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