Whether or not there is a principle that the Constitution establishes a typification of the competences of an independent administrative authority
Freedom of expression
Freedom of the written press
Right to information
A posteriori censorship
RULING Nº 505/96
20 of March of 1996
The list of attributions and powers of the High Authority for the Mass Media, set out in Article 39 of the Constitution, is not exhaustive, and the law may grant it other attributions and powers, in particular that of «providing for the accuracy of information».
The High Authority for the Mass Media is an independent administrative authority and, therefore, ordinary law may not attribute judicial powers to it.
However, making assessments of complaints about the accuracy of information and issuing recommendations do not amount to exercising the judicial functions constitutionally reserved for the courts.
On the other hand, these recommendations do not represent a form of a posteriori censorship but, above all, a value judgment of an ethical nature, in respect of the exercise of journalism.
The editor of a newspaper appealed to the Administrative Court against a decision by the High Authority for the Mass Media, claiming that the powers attributed to this body resulted in an unconstitutional interference in freedom of expression and in the freedom of the press. The Administrative Court refused, on the grounds of unconstitutionality, to apply the rules granting the High Authority for the Mass Media powers to «provide for the accuracy of information» and to issue directives and recommendations.
The case was then brought before the Constitutional Court which unanimously ruled that these rules were not contrary to the Constitution of the Portuguese Republic.