Listening Post
Argentina: Orwellian state or media reformer?
Examining the power struggle between Argentina's government and the country's most powerful media group.
Last Modified: 11 Nov 2012 14:41

One of the themes we keep coming across at the Listening Post is the political leader who goes to war with a particular media outlet.

We have looked at Venezuela, where Hugo Chavez took on a channel called RCTV; and Turkey, where Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan went after the Dogen Yayin conglomerate. But you would be hard-pressed to find a more open, overt power struggle than the one in Argentina between President Cristina Kirchner and the Clarin Group.

As the nation's biggest media player, Clarin controls a whopping 50 per cent of the country's newspaper and magazine circulation, one of the biggest TV networks in the region, as well as radio stations, and internet providers - but the question is for how long?

In 2009, the Kirchner government pushed through a media reform law that was as contentious as it was comprehensive. It was designed to break up media conglomerates and the target of the legislation was Clarin.

The new law ruled that the media pie in Argentina would be sliced up into three parts: one-third owned by the government, one third-owned by private sector companies, like Clarin, and one-third own for non-governmental community organisations.

What makes many Argentinians uneasy, however, is the notion that President Kirchner is not just out to get Clarin. Her critics now say freedom of the press is under threat.

The Listening Post's Marcela Pizarro reports on the legal showdown in Argentina, between the government and the country's most powerful media group.

"The problem [with Kirchner's party political broadcasts] is that talking directly to the public - that leaves the public with little choice but to applaud. Or to leave. It's a bit of an authoritarian way of communicating - because people are just there to listen. Journalists are important because they are there to ask things that the public can't ask directly."

Jorge Lanata a journalist, TV presenter of "Journalism for all"


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