Argentina | Freedom House

Freedom of the Press

Argentina

Argentina

Freedom of the Press 2004

2004 Scores

Press Status

Partly Free

Press Freedom Score
(0 = best, 100 = worst)

35

Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)

14

Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)

13

A degree of stability has returned in Argentina after the political and economic turmoil of 2002. As a result of this slow return to normality, the ability of the press to operate freely has also increased. Though Argentina's constitution provides for a free and independent press, and though the country's press has traditionally been vibrant and freely critical of the government, reporters allege that the government tries to control viewpoints in the media through its allocation of advertising revenue. In the run-up to presidential elections held in April 2003, rival supporters of each candidate--the challenger, Nestor Kirchner, who was elected, and the incumbent Carlos Menem, who was defeated--attacked cameramen and other reporters documenting the mob-like behavior and intimidation of innocent bystanders occurring at political rallies. Since Kirchner assumed power in May 2003, attacks on the press have abated somewhat, but journalists, particularly those who report on corruption and other sensitive issues, are still subjected to threats and physical violence at the hands of the police and other actors. President Kirchner's government has pushed for a series of anticorruption measures and progressive reforms in the legislature, including a set of laws establishing transparency in, free reporting of, and public access to legislative and judicial proceedings. Passage of these laws is contingent on Senate approval. Nevertheless, libel remains a criminal offense and is sometimes used to prosecute journalists. Fiscal pressures created by Argentina's stagnating economy have also offset these positive political developments. Drops in circulation and advertising have threatened the economic viability of private media outlets, which continue to fold in record numbers. In December, in an effort to correct this situation, the legislature revoked a value-added tax on advertising revenue that had been disproportionately affecting small and medium-size press outlets.