I – Declaration
Concern about Private Companies Banned from Advertising in Independent Media in Argentina
Red Latinoamericana en Defensa de la Libertad de Expresión (in Spanish, Latin American Network for the Defense of Freedom of Expression) has expressed its deep concern about the instructions given by the National Government of Argentina banning private companies—big supermarket and household appliance chains among others—from advertising in independent media.
Such verbal instructions given by the Secretary for Trade, Mr. Guillermo Moreno, in the framework of a price freeze ordered by Mrs. Fernández de Kirchner´s Administration, clearly contradict the “Principle on Freedom of Expression” as well as “consumer rights,” both of them provided for in the Argentine Constitution.
Section 42 of the Constitution of the Argentine Republic guarantees consumers and users the right to an “adequate and truthful information” which is absolutely restricted in the present circumstances.
Further, taking into consideration that a recent report by the Office of the Auditor General of Argentina has highlighted the lack of equitable criteria for the allocation of Government advertising, the ban on placing private sector advertising has ended up by becoming a financial enclosure, almost a terminal one, exerting pressure on independent media which depend exclusively on the income from commercial advertising.
Indeed, the 6th Principle of Red Latinoamericana en Defensa de la Libertad de Expresión states: “The assignment, management and removal of Government advertising, as well as the management of State resources for Government advertising, shall be correctly allocated by law. Management of the former shall be ruled by principles of equality and non-discrimination. Government advertising cannot be used as a weapon for indirect censorship, or as an instrument to punish or reward media editorial policy with the purpose of influencing on it.”
Further, the OAS Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression, which Argentina has embraced, states in Section five “the imposition of obstacles to the free flow of information violates the right to freedom of expression.” Similarly, section thirteen states “the arbitrary and discriminatory placement of official advertising… threatens freedom of expression, and must be explicitly prohibited by law.”
Government actions have thus set up dangerous dynamics of self-censorship where the intimidation of supermarket chains together with other measures of persecution have already silenced other voices, such as financial consultants who used to publish inflation indexes or consumer associations which used to publish price evolution indexes differing from the official figures. Such a pattern of direct or indirect restriction on freedom of expression, access to information and consumer rights damages the quality of our democratic system.
We demand that this policy of threats on freedom of expression, representing an unsettling escalation of permanent confrontation with independent media in Argentina, cease for once and for all.
Red Latinoamericana en Defensa de la Libertad de Expresión shall continue endeavouring for the promotion and protection of this fundamental Human Right, and shall keep on working to raise the visibility of any and all acts restricting the exercise of such rights.
César Ricaurte – Director Ejecutivo (Executive Director)
Mauricio Alarcón Salvador – Director de Proyectos (Project Manager)
Juan León Cornejo – Director Ejecutivo (Executive Director)
Asociación Nacional de la Prensa (Bolivia)
Silvana Giudici – Presidenta
Fundación LED -Libertad de Expresión + Democracia- (Argentina)