Argentine government aims to hit newspaper finances

Freedom House and Argentina’s Foundation for Freedom of Expression and Democracy have expressed deep concern over the recent directives by the Argentinean government to prohibit private companies to place advertisement in independent media outlets. By targeting media groups that do not share the national government’s viewpoints, this policy threatens freedom of expression, and represents a troubling escalation of the ongoing confrontation with independent media, said the organizations.

Freedom House and the foundation called on Argentina’s leadership to abandon their campaign of economic pressure on the country’s free press and rescind these latest restrictions on private retailers.

According to some reports, beginning in February , the minister of commerce of Argentina, Guillermo Moreno, delivered verbal instructions to the country’s largest retailers –including WalMart from the United States, Carrefour from France and others – prohibiting them from continuing to place newspaper or television ads while a freeze in the price of grocery stores products and others is in effect. This prohibition constitutes a crisis for private media that depend on advertising revenue, including the largest independent outlets – La Nacion, Clarin, and Perfil.

These actions fit the government’s broader pattern of using state advertising funds to reward loyal media while withholding funds from others, leading to a dangerous dynamic of self-censorship and conflict of interest, said the two organizations. The Argentine government has waged a drawn out campaign against private media, attacking journalists and attempting to break up major press companies.

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