There remain troubling issues for press freedom in the country. Meetings are being held with federal government officials to find ways to overcome the problems plaguing publications owned by small and medium-sized companies. The strengthening of the law and the improved economic situation also work to the advantage of media companies. But despite improvements in the economy, concerns remain over the financial situation of newspapers that cannot solve the multiple problems they face. Some government officials have attempted to differentiate between the freedom of expression and the freedom to do business; they ignore the fact that in order for the free expression of ideas to be truly meaningful in society, material and technological resources are needed. The placement of government advertising is still a carrot-and-stick mechanism for exerting pressure on media outlets and journalists, since it is still not subject to any technical criteria or objective regulations. The Radio Broadcasting Act has not yet been replaced by new legislation reflecting the profound changes in today’s globalized world. The proliferation of television and radio programs supported by the government tends to galvanize the opinions and perspectives that average citizens are forging for themselves. The government extended radio and television licenses for ten years, as a way of compensating for the difficult conditions faced by radio broadcasting companies, but a comprehensive solution through a new regulatory framework is still pending. The developments that jeopardize press freedom mainly stem from the federal government’s derogatory statements and mistrustful stance toward independent journalism. Since March, President Néstor Kirchner has repeatedly voiced his concerns regarding journalists and media outlets, perhaps fueled in recent months by the turmoil surrounding the election season that will culminate on October 23 with the congressional elections. Also, the president has stepped up his harsh words against the newspaper La Nación and its managing editor. “Certain sectors are taking aim at me,” he stated on August 5 during a visit to the city of Neuquén, and “they shield themselves by claiming to be independent.” He also made reference to corruption in the press but unfortunately gave no details, casting a cloud over the news media as a whole. The president stated, “I am not confrontational, nor do I attack the media; I am just another Argentine defending his ideas.” Apparently, though, he does not accept the ideas of the independent media. These hostile statements are cause for concern. Whenever the media questions the actions of the administration, no one is questioning that the president, as any citizen, has every right to express his opinion and his disagreements with criticism in the media. But, as stated by the Association of Argentine News Organizations (ADEPA), he should not attack the work of the press or individual journalists. It is troubling that a high-level government figure such as Senator Cristina Fernández de Kirchner would state that “governments should be unbending. The government program is Argentina and this is government policy. To anyone who disagrees, the government will be unbending,” she stated at a conference on press freedom at New School University in New York during her recent visit to the United States. All of these issues pose a challenge to a free, pluralistic, independent press that sometimes must work in a climate of government mistrust toward the media. The president does not give press conferences. This lack of openness compromises efforts to ensure accuracy in reporting, hinders the work of journalists, and makes it difficult to report on the government’s activities. Meanwhile, final passage of the Freedom of Information Act is still pending. The Chamber of Deputies approved the bill but has received more than ten amendment proposals from the Senate. These amendments would severely undermine the original intentions of the bill. These delays and setbacks continue to raise suspicions that the administration has no interest in this law. The government apparently believes that information falls within its jurisdiction, and that legislation is concerned only with the government while it should also be extended to individuals. The bill has been returned to the Chamber of Deputies, which can either reinstate the original text, if so decided by the required majority, or pass the amendments proposed by the Senate, which would place limitations on the freedom of information. Further casting a pall on the freedom of information is a bill introduced by four senators from the Justicialist Party. This bill would make additional areas subject to the confidentiality that understandably applies to defense and security matters. This initiative was even discouraged by the executive branch, and legislators said that they would consult with journalists’ organizations before considering this legislation. A reporter for La Voz de San Justo and a vehicle belonging to the newspaper recently came under violent attack. This has shaken the tranquil town of San Francisco Córdoba. According to company sources, these incidents are suspected to be related to a labor dispute that has been brewing at the newspaper for several months. The release from prison of those who killed photographer Luis Cabeza has sparked outrage. While this decision was based on law, it was widely condemned for re-establishing a climate in which crimes go unpunished. In another development, Secretary of the Media Enrique Albistur filed a criminal complaint against reporters and managers at the magazine Noticias of Buenos Aires over an article on his role in the placement of government advertising. The suit was ultimately withdrawn, but it reinforces the need to decriminalize defamation in cases involving news on government activities. This publication has also been subjected to discrimination through the denial of government advertising. The nongovernmental organization Poder Ciudadano studied the distribution of government advertising in the first half of this year. It stresses that, just as in 2004, the federal government has no objective rules for placement. Therefore, the group reported, this discretion “could favor that are more friendly and be detrimental to those that are not.” Those that received the government advertising in the first half of the year were the print media (newspapers and magazines) with 37% of the total, that is, 28,778,875 pesos. Broadcast television was next, with 22% of the government advertising schedule payment (17,067,100 pesos); next were radio stations with 19% (14,145,686 pesos), and in fourth place, cable channels with 12% (8,651,566 pesos). These are followed by advertising outdoors, in movie theaters and Web pages. An analysis by category shows that the newspaper that received the most government advertising was Clarín, the newspaper with the largest circulation, with a total of 7,153,177 pesos. In second place was the daily Página 12, with 4,492,942 pesos, which is more than the 3,705,401 pesos placed in La Nación, a morning newspaper that is second in circulation, which is much larger than that of Página 12. Ámbito Financiero is in fourth place with 1,729,741 pesos. La Razón is fifth with 1,309,708 pesos, followed by InfoBAE with 733,735 pesos; the free university newspaper La U with 503,287 pesos; El Popular with 480,533 pesos; El Cronista with 432,140 pesos; Crónica with 336,994 pesos; La Prensa with 319,251 pesos; and Buenos Aires Herald with 230,887 pesos. With respect to political magazines, the largest schedule went to Veintitrés, with a circulation of 14,831 that received 283,050 pesos, while Noticias, which sells an average of 40,261 copies a week, did not receive any government advertising. Among the radio stations, the most government advertising still goes to Radio Nacional (with 1,008,476 pesos), with the sixth largest listening audience. The next are Radio América (including FM Aspen, which is in eighth place in ratings, and Del Plata, which is fifth. In fourth place in advertising placement is Radio 10 and its FM station La Mega (with the most listeners). They are followed by Rock &: Pop and AM 990, Radio Rivadavia, Mitre (with the second largest audience), La Red (with the fourth rating) and Continental (third place). According to the organization, the placement on television channels was equivalent to their ratings and favored Telefé (with 3,588,765 pesos), followed by Channel 13 (3,471,882 pesos), Channel 9 (3,206,215 pesos), América (2,059,795 pesos) and Channel 7.