Outcry in Argentina over statements suggesting government editorial control

Controversy erupted when a member of the Federal Authority for Audiovisual Communication Services (AFSCA in Spanish), the organization responsible for implementing the Media Law, mentioned a possible attempt to control the editorial stances of media outlets in Argentina, reported the newspaper La Razón.

Argentina's Media Law was approved in 2009 and has generated controversy since its inception for its intention to limit the number of broadcast licenses owned by any one company, including media giant Clarín. Companies have until Dec. 7 to comply with the law voluntarily or face possible expropriation by the government.

The law seeks to regulate the use of the broadcast spectrum but does not attempt to regulate content transmitted by broadcasters, reported the website Infobae. Statement from Nicolás Cherei, one of AFSCA's coordinators, however, opened the possibility of controlling media content too, added the website.

"If they have different owners, we're going to make sure they have different editorial styles, different technicians, journalists and camera operators," Cherei said in an interview with FM Simphony, according to La Razón.

The head of AFSCA, Martín Sabbatella, responded to the outcry, denying that the organization sought to control editorial content and alleged that the official's statements had been edited and misrepresented, reported the website La Prensa. Sabbatella also underlined the fact that the law guarantees freedom of expression and democracy, noted the website.

Note from the editor: This story was originally published by the Knight Center’s blog Journalism in the Americas, the predecessor of LatAm Journalism Review.