All the President’s Media

Last week, Argentina’s small active Twitter scene became transfixed with more than three dozen messages sent out by Juan Cruz Sanz, a young journalist at Clarín, country’s largest circulation daily. Sanz’s short missives recounted how high-level officials pressured C5N, a cable TV news station recently bought by an executive close to government, to renege on an offer to hire him as a panelist on a late-night program. The spokesman of President Fernández de Kirchner and her chief of cabinet allegedly made calls to C5N managers. (A manager at the channel later denied allegations, also on Twitter.) The idea high-ranking officials would bother to control basic operations at a cable news program may seem far-fetched. But that’s only if you ignore president’s obsession with the media. “I read everything,” Kirchner said recently, almost ominously. She doesn’t tear up newspapers on camera like President Correa of Ecuador, but during speeches she sometimes holds up front pages, questioning story placement. And she complains. Frequently. Certain topics aren’t covered enough; others too much. Sometimes, it’s simply tone of the coverage she doesn’t care for. Kirchner’s interest in the media seems to rise when her approval ratings drop, which is what they’ve been doing in recent months, down from time of her sweeping reelection victory last autumn. With no credible opposition to speak of, press makes for a convenient enemy. And there is no better target than Clarín Group, country’s largest media conglomerate, with which Kirchner has been at war since 2008, when newspapers, television stations, owned by group provided favorable coverage of striking farmers. Kirchner pushed an expansive media bill through Congress in 2009. Although the law is laudable in some respects, it includes measures to diversify industry, which is too concentrated, it also seems designed to weaken Clarín. For example, it limits number of broadcast licenses any one company can hold, it prohibits the joint ownership of a broadcast network and a cable distributor, and it places caps on market penetration. The government has justified this pressure by calling Clarín “the monopoly.” While it’s true that the group has often wielded too much power, these days it’s the government that has the true monopoly on information in Argentina. Television and radio stations are required to broadcast Kirchner’s speeches nationally. There’s no law guaranteeing the right to access public information. And thanks to generous and discretional advertising by government, there are now far more outlets than not that are sympathetic to its point of view. Last month Kirchner said media outlets criticize her form part of a “national network of fear, disenchantment”. It seems she would be much happier with a network of “everything is fine” (Daniel Politi – NYTimes – 10/08/2012) 


Acerca de ignaciocovelo
Consultor Internacional

One Response to All the President’s Media

  1. Professor Uziel Nogueira says: In the fight between Cristina Kirchner (CK) and the midia group Clarin is not easy to identify good guys from the bad guys. After all, politics, economic swindles and criminal activity are intertwined in Argentina. During the bloody military government period of 1976-1982, the midia was totally subservient to the powers that be. Upon the return of democracy, the political system was supported by midia and communication conglomerates. Former Pres Nestor Kirchner was elected with the support of Clarin and La Nacion in 2002. Cristina Kirchner and her former husband Nestor Kirchner ‘declared war’ on Clarin for a simple reason: political power. She would like to run for a third term in 2016 (that require changes in the Constitution) or to make up her successor. She thinks she has popular support to do that. The only obstacle is the independent midia. One instrument used to attack Clarin, every single night, is a pseudo-journalistic program called 6,7, 8 transmitted on public television. More interesting, is a female comic on a popular Sunday night political program dressed and talking like CK. Her imitation of CK’s speeches is hilarious and getting better than the real ones. Presidents are in trouble in Argentina when they become material for late night comedians. Who is going to win, Clarin or CK? Anything can happens, including Cristina becoming Pres for a third term against all odds. The impossible can happens in the land of the Tango and Diego Maradona.


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