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Comunicación y Opinión Pública
Marcelo J. García, en Buenos Aires Herald
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Media review 2012
28/12/2012 | When this year started, it appeared that an exhausting conflict between the government and Grupo Clarín could find some negotiated way out.

By New Years’s Day last January, as President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner set off for a second term she had obtained comfortably two months earlier, one of the main of the many fronts of confrontation with the country’s media champion was closed. The leader of the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo, Estela de Carlotto, announced that an investigation into whether the two adopted children of Grupo Clarín owner Ernestina Herrera de Noble had been born to abducted and later “disappeared” victims of the 1976-83 military dictatorship had been “resolved by law” after the two agreed to undergo DNA tests. The case had escalated to be a bleeding thorn in the multi-faceted political clash between a powerful government and a media Goliath.

But the thaw did not last for long.

By early February, a newly hired star journalist in Grupo Clarín, Jorge Lanata, broke a story of alleged influence peddling that would virtually – until there is evidence to the contrary – finish Vice-President Amado Boudou’s political career. Lanata’s long-standing reputation of exposing corruption was throughout the year put to the full service of Grupo Clarín, who gave him prominent space on radio, television and print. The Boudou story dragged for weeks and it took weeks for Boudou to articulate some sort of self-defence.

The Boudou gate made the government lose command on the political agenda. That is maybe why the President devoted a few lines in her State of the Nation speech on March 1 to call on politicians from all parties to “Keep your own agenda, your own ideas and your own objectives” instead of pursuing the agenda of others, i.e. the oppositionist mainstream media. “Think how (the media) massacre all of you when you don’t do what they want.”

Later in March, one actor that would prove to be crucial in the media brawl made its first key appearance: the Supreme Court. Chief Justice Ricardo Lorenzetti said in a speech to open the working year in the courts that the three branches of power should “prevent the discourse about problems from replacing the solution of the problems.” A prophetic irony for what would happen later in the year.

Also in March, a newspaper folded: Libre, an intelligent tabloid experiment by the Perfil publishing house. Upon closing its doors after only a year after its birth, publisher Jorge Fontevecchia blamed the failure on lack of government advertising.

But Lanata’s greatest public impact happened as from April, when his Periodismo Para Todos Sunday evening political show went on the air of Grupo Clarín’s Canal 13, capture high viewership ratings. Lanata’s show systematically targeted government figures from the President down to provincial allies with allegations of corruption, embezzlement and negligence.

In May, the Supreme Court made its grand entrée in the media tussle by ruling that a court-ordered freeze on the anti-trust chapter of the 2009 Media Act could not last forever. The Court ordered the lower courts to cut the feet dragging and tackle a Constitutionality issue raised by Grupo Clarín. The freeze should not last for more than 36 months, starting from the moment it was introduced, said the Court. The resulting date was December 7, 2012, which would later become the infamous “7D.”

In June, the government lost one key ally in its anti-Grupo Clarín crusade for good. Hugo Moyano, leader of the teamsters and head of one faction of the General Labour Confederation, said in an interview with Grupo Clarín’s cable news channel Todo Noticias that the government’s media policy was just a sham designed to “create a State-run media monopoly.”

The Media Act policy suffered a major setback in July, when the AFSCA federal broadcasting committee cancelled a tender to allocate 220 digital television licenses, following complaints by non-for-profit third sector players that the base cash required to enter the race for a station was too high. The decision was highly symbolic: the tender had been launched in June 2011 on the same day Fernández de Kirchner said to the Nation that she would seek re-election.

The President did not pass the test of taking questions during a Harvard conference in September. “I speak a lot to the press,” she told the students, whose questions were more journalistic that academic than the government delegation expected.

Come October, the appointment of Martín Sabbatella as head of the AFSCA confirmed that media policy and politics are one and the same thing for the administration when it comes to the endless legal battle with Grupo Clarín over the anti-trust rules set by the Media Act. Nothing really happened on the “7D” but a week later, on December 15, a judge ruled that the Media Act was fully constitutional, triggering a new round of appeals that will ultimately climb back to the Supreme Court. Sabbatella’s number one mission to “enforce the law” continues until this day stuck in a legal maze.

Meanwhile, Grupo Clarín’s stock in the London Stock Exchange lost 50 percent of its nominal value this year and the President faced two massive anti government demonstrations on September 13 and November 8. The fight is a tie, so far. News-consuming citizens can only hope for some more informational insecurity.


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YXdRRcQtRhhiL (28/01/2013 | 21:09 hs)
Well the military dogs have shown the enrite face of them upon Arakan. We don''t need the outsiders rule on our soil( Rakhine Land) _ so long as the country is ruled by liars and animals, we will not have a ground to stand on. See? they respect those who have guns without which they will not put you in their eyes and will continue to treat us like animals. So the only solution is if each of us have a gun on our own, the so-called conceited military dogs will surely be defeated!

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