Argentine Media Law

The Argentine parliament passed a new media reform law last week that caused alot of controversy throughout the country and is also of interest for national media policy throughout the world.

The stated purpose and provisions of the law are not altogether unfamiliar ones, though in this era of dying newspapers and hyper consolidation of media companies, we don’t see them get put into effect very often. What am I talking about? Let me list the guts of the law, as I’ve understood it from both Argentine and international media channels, blogs, and tweets:

  1. This new media law is meant to replace the existing one adopted during the military dictatorship of the 70’s and 80’s.
  2. Two-Thirds of the Radio and TV spectrum will be reserved for non-commercial stations.
  3. Establishes 7 member commission to oversee licensing, made up of 2 designated by the executive branch, three by congress, and 2 by a Federal body representing provincial governments.
  4. Requires TV companies to carry channels operated by universities, union, indigenous groups and other non-governmental organizations.
  5. Requires more frequent licensing approvals
  6. 70 percent of radio and 60 percent of tv content must be produced in Argentina.

This list is what I’ve compiled and understood as a non-native Spanish speaker who has never set foot in Argentina, though I have observed the political and social situation via the internet for the past decade.  No doubt Argentines and critical observers on both sides will have different interpretations and details about the situation.

That said, putting aside the surrounding debate, the stated purpose and many of the provisions of the media law are interesting for anyone concerned about issues such as media consolidation, diversity, representation, non-profit journalism and culture.  Such issues have long been debated within institutions like the European Parliament as well as national governments throughout the world. Many of the details within the text of this law were no doubt inspired by several European provisions that seek to nurture a diverse and dynamic public media sector.

On the other side there is concern about how this will be carried out in Argentina. The fear that this will empower the government in a dangerous manner and benefit only those with money who happen to be close to the executive branch. Others simply believe that the market should determine what happens to Argentine media, where for example the media corporation Clarin owns 44% of the media market share (more than 250 newspapers, radio stations, tv channels, cable stations). In their eyes this law is not only dangerous but it would severely damage their very successful and prestigious communication business.

While continuing to read and follow this issue, I will get in touch with some interesting people on the ground in Argentina who could join me for a podcast in an effort to learn more about what is happening with the world of media in that country.

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ctrp317 European News Values from West to East

Sitting in as far East as geographic Europe goes, questions about where we are and how things here differ from things over there arise. While in Western Europe issues regarding climate change are high on the public agenda, how does that issue fair in the East? On this particular night in Rostov-on-Don, Russia, I sit down with Sergio of Eurotopics.net to hear about what their project is about and how he sees the concerns of Europe, from West to East and everything in between.

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Future of Television, Ahem

One of the fun parts of working as part of a freelance journalist collective in a city filled with creative minds, sometimes you get invited to something interesting and unexpected. Sometimes its just the opposite.

Today some of my ambitious colleagues asked if I wanted to sit in and give my 2 cents at a meeting regarding the future of television programming (on Dutch public TV specifically). What started as a meeting of 4 warped into a meeting of 8, with various people coming from TV, radio, documentary and backgrounds of all kinds. Everyone got a chance to say their piece regarding what they think the future of television should be, what their media consumption habits are, and what kind of programs they would like to see.

I sat there completely conflicted. My blanket answer, Read more

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Testimony on the State of the Media

In a recent post you might remember me pointing to the words of The Wire creator and former Baltimore journalist David Simon as he was interviewed on Bill Moyer’s program. You might also remember that I’m a huge, let’s be honest, FAN, of Simon as I find the Wire to be one imperfect and completely accurate mirror of how our society and our world functions.

So it might come as a surprise and certainly ironic when I tell you I hated David Simon’s testimony before US Congress during the recent session on the state of the media industry. Hmm, saying I hated it is kind of silly, the basic fact is that based on Simon’s words before congress, I don’t agree and would argue some of his statements/facts.

I actually plan to develop my response further, possibly putting it out as a video entry, but for now I wanted to begin to break-down what problem I have with Simon’s words and to properly lay out my own responses. Read more

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