Thursday, September 17, 2009

Kirchner and the Press

Since democratization in the early 1980s, the relation between the press and the government has been normalized, although the current administration is currently seeking to restrict the rights of the press, which is generating a large and penetrating argument throughout the country. The current president, Cristina Kirchner, introduced a bill to congress about two weeks ago seeking cut media rights, and reinforce government control. This law change would be the first dealing with the media since the arrival of democracy. The law seeks to limit the number of licenses for media outlets a single company can own from the current limit twenty-four, to ten. Oversight for complying with the norms and renewal of licenses would be provided by the government every two years. Opponents of the bill assert that it will convert Argentina’s media into a category similar to those controlled by Chavez in Venezuela.

Clarín, the media company who would lose the largest amount of money and control under the new bill has also been subject to intimidation and raids. However, the media conglomerate has fought back by constantly attacking the proposed law and administration though its newspapers and radio and TV stations. Additionally, Kirchner has proposed decriminalizing libel. Many opponents speculate that this decriminalization would be too perfect for the government to manipulate information after it disbands the private sector media giants.

The following links provide some further information about the reading. Apart from the New York Times article, they are all in Spanish.

The high quality image included in this post is an excerpt from an front page article I scanned from what is probably the country's most prestigious periodical - "La Nación." For those who are Spanish speakers in this class, it should provide more insight on the situation. Because it is not owned by Grupo Clarín, it can also be viewed as slightly less biased, although any large media source is likely to be "Anti-K."


  1. Danny - This is an interesting development and mirrors much of what is happening in the United States. Is your impression that generally the press has been playing its role as a check on the government?

    Can you have a democracy without a free and fair press?

  2. Danny, In addition to Rachels comment above, I wonder what the relationship was between the press and the democratized governement prior to the introduction of this bill. Any major reason why it is happening or is the government restricting powers across the board, not just in the media? -Leo

  3. Rachel -
    I would definitely agree that the press plays an important role as a check on the government in Argentina. The newspapers and other media outlets regularly report on issues of corruption and other wrongdoing within the government. However, it is clear that most of media power is concentrated in a small amount of hands, just like in the US. The difference between the two countries is that in Argentina the press does not successfully hide biases. For example, Grupo Clarin has managed to slant all their articles against the president, and attempts to make her look foolish - including topics such as her speech before the UN General Assembly recently.

    Leo -
    During the presidency of Nestor Kitchner (Cristina's husband) the relationship between the press and the government was extremely friendly. Later, when Cristina was elected the interests of the couple, who act basically as one political entity, changed. The first major conflict between Cristina and the people/press was her proposed bill to increase taxes for agricultural products like soy. After this conflict, el Grupo Clarin (which has many interests aligned with the agricultural sector) began to depict the "K Politics" in a less positive manner, creating a snowball affect between the government and the press.

  4. Hi Danny,

    You said that the media is very important in checking the actions of the government and I was wondering what examples you might have of the media affecting change within the government. In the case of corruption, it seems that providing information to the public has actually done very little to curb the trend with in the government, so I guess I was looking for a success story, anything moderately close it at least.
    I was also wondering what other interests Clarin has in the country besides agriculture that might have an influence on its portrayal of the presidents' actions.