News of a possible government-led advertising "boycott" against the media caused uproar in Argentina, reported the news agency EFE.
The Independent Media Business Commission said that the government's secretary of Domestic Commerce "pressured" supermarkets and electronic appliance stores to not advertise in newspapers, radio or television, reported the newspaper Clarín.
The official suggested that businesses not advertise their products until April 1, when they could reach an agreement with the government to stabilize prices. The government said the move is part of a plan to fight soaring inflation in the country, reported the website Nueva Tribuna. The advertising freeze would only affect newspapers in the capital, Buenos Aires, where the largest newspapers critical of the government are located, including Clarín, La Nación and Perfil, added the website.
The Inter American Press Association called the move an attack on press freedom through "economic suffocation," according to a statement from the group. "The creativity of President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner's regime to attack all possible forms of free journalism seems limitless and, unfortunately, irrepressible," said Claudio Paolillo, president of IAPA's Freedom of the Press and Information Commission.
The Argentine Journalism Forum (FOPEA in Spanish) said that these actions adversely affect the practice of journalism and, therefore, affect "society too, which will see how the quality of information drops if this situation continues," according to a statement on the group's website. FOPEA added that it respects commercial businesses' freedom to advertise but that there was no free will in the decision if it was motivated by outside pressures, this time from the government.
The government denied the alleged "boycott" while the deputy secretary of Consumer Protection accused the newspaper Clarín of fabricating the story, according to the website Cronista.
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.