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Global editors group raises alarm over Argentina press freedom threat | Media | theguardian.com

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Global editors group raises alarm over Argentina press freedom threat

A world-wide group of editors has raised the alarm about a press freedom crisis in Argentina where the government is planning to break up the country's leading independent media group.

The Paris-based Global Editors' Network (GEN) is calling on the world's media to focus attention on a decision by the administration of President Cristina Kirchner to seize control of Grupo Clarín on 7 December.

It is using a controversial media law in order to revoke its licences and sell off its assets. Yet the law itself is currently being challenged in the courts on the grounds that it violates constitutional rights.

The Clarín group publishes Argentina's largest-selling newspaper, Clarín, which has been a consistently critical voice of the Kirchner government.

After a meeting of the GEN board in Buenos Aires this week, its secretary, Alejandro Miró Quesada, said: "7 December is a deadline day for press freedom. Media should speak with one voice against this intolerable threat to independent journalism.

"The attack on Clarín is symbolic of the political pressure that media are facing throughout the region."

The Kirchner move follows a three-year campaign by her government against the Clarín group, the details of which have been reported previously by the three leading global press freedom watchdogs (here and here and here).

GEN has also highlighted more than 450 legal and administrative acts of harassment against Clarín. One key move has been the government's preferential placing of state advertising with certain media companies which, says GEN, "has effectively bought itself control of media content."

It is estimated the the Kirchner government now has direct or indirect control of 80% of the Argentine media.

As for the media law, it was supposed to strengthen diversity and pluralism by limiting monopoly media ownership - a legitimate goal - but its critics say it has only one intention: to stifle dissent and, in particular, to dismantle the Clarín group.

Even though it remains uncertain whether the Kirchner government will carry out its threat, GEN is organising an international petition and calling on media leaders from the region, and around the world, to protest.

Note: GEN was founded in March 2011 in response to concerns about the risks to the future of quality journalism. Its 400 members are drawn from editors and executives in 80 countries. The president is Ricardo Kirschbaum, Clarín's editor-in-chief, and one of the 24-strong board members is The Guardian's editor, Alan Rusbridger.

Sources: GEN/Reporters Without Borders/Committee to Protect Journalists/International Press Institute

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Sign up for the daily email Posted by Roy Greenslade Wednesday 10 October 2012 03.36 EDT theguardian.com

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Global editors group raises alarm over Argentina press freedom threat

This article was published on the Guardian website at 03.36 EDT on Wednesday 10 October 2012. It was last modified at 00.21 EDT on Wednesday 4 June 2014.

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