Relations between the presidency and the media are still just as tense, while political pressures and blackmail through attribution of public advertising have led some national and provincial media to censor themselves.
President Néstor Kirchner’s wife, Sen. Cristína Fernández, publicly called journalists “fools” and “ignoramuses” on national independence day on 9 July, which did not help to calm the very tense relationship between the authorities and the media. Kirchner himself still holds no press conferences and political pressure at national and provincial level has caused some radio and TV stations to drop programmes and even dismiss journalists who presented them.
2006 began badly for José “Pepe” Eliaschev, of the state-owned Radio Nacional, whose discussion programme “Esto que pasa” was dropped from 1 January. He said he had been dismissed for criticising the federal government’s silence towards the media. Threats to withhold public advertising often forced the media to fall in with the dictates of provincial governors and politicians.
In the northern province of Tucumán, the “Periodismo de Verdad” programme on TV station 5 ATS was suspended indefinitely on 13 March, officially because management wanted more time for entertainment and less for politics. But the real reason was that the provincial government had threatened to withhold a vital €20,000 worth of advertising. The same thing happened to a programme, “Séptimo Día,” on the LU12 Radio Río Gallegos station in President Kirchner’s home province of Santa Cruz, on 3 May, and in July to the morning programme “Desayuno” on the state-run TV station Canal 7, whose presenter, Marcela Pacheco, had been dismissed without explanation a month earlier.
The mayor of Quilmes (Buenos Aires province), Sergio Villordo, tried to shut down two privately-owned radio stations - FAN 103.9 and Radio Quilmes 106.9 - by getting the federal broadcasting committee (COMFER) not to renew their licences. In June, the federal chamber of deputies urged COMFER to restore them but this has still not been done. The station’s director, Pedro Navarro, was physically attacked in August by a politician of the local ruling Justicialist Party and hospitalised.
Thirty-four journalists were physically attacked during the year, often by politicians, civil servants or police. Carlos Furman, of the radio station
2 de octubre, had to hide in a hotel for more than three months wearing a bulletproof vest after he criticised the mayor of Santa Elena, in Entre Ríos province, where physical attacks were common. The personal e-mail accounts of several national-press journalists, including two on the daily paper Clarín, were hacked into in May, causing a scandal.
Two radio journalists, Néstor Pasquini and Hugo Francischelli, have been detained in the northern city of Córdoba since 20 December for alleged “incitement to violence”, “arson” and “assault” while covering a demonstration that turned violent earlier in the month. They face between three and 15 years in prison.
Relations with the media and allocation of public advertising have become issues in the campaign for the 2007 presidential elections. The parliamentary opposition has proposed three bills to allocate advertising more fairly but they have not reached parliament’s agenda.