Freedom of the Press - Argentina (2005)
|Publication Date||27 April 2005|
|Cite as||Freedom House, Freedom of the Press - Argentina (2005), 27 April 2005, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/47345148c.html [accessed 31 October 2014]|
|Disclaimer||This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.|
Status: Partly Free
Legal Environment: 10
Political Influences: 16
Economic Pressures: 15
Total Score: 41
Life Expectancy: 74
Religious Groups: Roman Catholic (92 percent), Protestant (2 percent), Jewish (2 percent), other (4 percent)
Ethnic Groups: White [mostly Spanish and Italian] (97 percent), other [including mestizo and Amerindian] (3 percent)
Capital: Buenos Aires
Argentina's relative political stability has brought with it a climate in which the press has been able to operate freely, although not without some sustained official pressure. In 2004, the Argentine Senate debated, but did not pass, legislation allowing unfettered access to public information, even as relations between much of the press and President Nestor Kirchner soured, in part because of a lack of access to him by independent reporters. Although Article 43 of the constitution protects the confidentiality of news sources, members of the national Congress became increasingly vocal in their demands to broaden the right to access both reporters' data banks and their confidential sources. In a positive development, in November the Chamber of Deputies approved an amendment to the country's Broadcasting Law that would permit broadcast licensing of civil society and nonprofit groups rather than restricting it to commercial businesses.
However, journalists – particularly those who report on corruption, irregular business dealings, and human rights abuses – are still subjected to threats and physical violence by the police and other actors. In a negative development, the pro-Kirchner Pagina/12 censored one of its own journalists, who was preparing an investigative report on alleged government corruption, while one of the daily's journalists, erstwhile anticorruption crusader Horacio Verbitsky, launched personal attacks on his investigative colleague. The ensuing scandal, which Pagina/12 workers said was not an "isolated" case of censorship, ended with the dissolution of the decade-old free press group Periodistas, which split between pro-government and anticensorship factions.
Nevertheless, a wide range of privately owned print and broadcast media freely criticize the government and provide a diversity of views. The media continues to enjoy broad credibility and influence, in part due to the discredit of public institutions and the major political parties (albeit somewhat diminished of late). Although the constitution provides for a free and independent press, the Kirchner government has both increased official advertising in the media and has channeled it disproportionately to news outlets it considers friendly, in an effort to induce more favorable coverage. Reliable reports say both national and provincial government agencies also withhold advertising to produce similar results. In recent years, Argentina's media industry has been consolidated, with several large conglomerates emerging in dominant roles. The trend has combined with a tendency by larger publications, themselves under serious financial pressures, to modulate their criticism of the government as a means of receiving official favor in the treatment of debts and a greater share of state-sponsored advertising.