The press has faced a climate of growing hostility during the past six months. A series of government resolutions, judicial maneuvers, threatening and frightening statements by public servants, solid measures against the media, and threats and physical attacks against journalists present a somber scenario for carrying out journalism and the right of all citizens to express themselves freely. Journalists’ Access to official sources has faced more obstacles. Government workers’ answers to questions tend to be guarded and incomplete. The president, Cristina de Kirchner, has not held a single press conference in all of 2012, but she has used a national broadcast hook-up some twenty times to make numerous announcements that are not related to “serious, exceptional situations, or those of institutional importance” which are the cases that legally justify such use. In many of her speeches the president has scolded journalists and has made references to an “illegal chain of fear and discouragement” in allusion to the Clarín Group and other media outlets. On July 11 this year, on a national broadcast hook-up, the president accused a real estate operator of tax evasion after referring to statements that it had made to the newspaper Clarín about economic difficulties in its industry. This public statement violated tax secrecy and constituted a clear abuse of power which was repeated, a month later, when the president made mention of journalist Marcelo Bonelli, whom she linked to supposed irregular payments from a company. In that speech, she affirmed that a public ethics law for the press was needed. Public investment in communications increased in 2012, according to figures from the National Budget Office, to 7.143 billion pesos, which, at official exchange rates, is more than 1.5 billion dollars. Half of this amount will be used for construction projects with the state satellite solutions provider, ArSat, such as building of digital transmission stations and installation of antennas. The program Soccer for Everyone will cost 1.378 billion pesos, including payments for broadcast rights and costs of production, an amount that will be added to the almost 4 billion that the program has already cost over its three years of existence. The official news agency, Télam, Channel 7 open-air television, and Radio Nacional will spend 900 million pesos this year. According to the official budget, it is estimated that 590 million will be spent on official advertising, 347 million for maintenance and development of Open Digital Television, and 166 million to financing AFSCA, the agency that enforces Law 26.522, known as the Media Law. In addition to the geometrical growth of investment in this area, the use that has been made of the apparatus supported by these funds must be considered. Broadcasts of the parties are included in the Soccer for Everyone programs, where the state is the only sponsor through advertisements that tend to have a proselyting tone. The government media function within their informative space like partisan entities, harboring programs dedicated to discrediting journalists and the independent media. Official advertising is placed, in general, in an arbitrary way, according to the editorial line of each medium and disregarding Supreme Court decisions that condemn the use of discrimination in official advertising. It has been more than a year since the government last reported on its distribution, but a private survey that monitored changes in state advertising in a large number of media estimates that there was growth of almost 70% during the first eight months of 2012, over the same period of the previous year, The study on distribution suggests that some media saw increases of 240% from one year to the next. At the beginning of August, union demonstrators from sellers and distributors of newspapers prevented the papers La Nación and Clarín from coming out, thus committing a crime specified in the Penal Code but that was ignored by authorities. That same month, the Association of Free Consumers was suspended for publishing a price survey showing prices different from those disseminated by the National Institute of Statistics and Census (INDEC). At the same time, other associations were notified by the National Subsecretariat for Defense of the report the methodologies that they use to do their research. This persecutory policy against those who publish numbers different from questionable official statistics is the same one that has been used previously against economic consultants who were fined or intimidated for disseminating rates of inflation that differed from those published by the government. A good portion of the media located outside the capital suffers in the same or even greater way than the large papers in the city of Buenos Aires, with pressures and discrimination from provincial and municipal governments. But to this harassment must be added the enormous economic difficulties that put their continuation in check. The great majority of these media is barely able to pay their tax liability. For this reason, it is imperative to have a change from the present fiscal scheme, which ignores the commitments of the State and puts at risk the very survival of these important agent in Argentine communities. The majority of the more than 15,000 media outlets in Argentina cannot subsist without some state support. The plurality of news sources was put to the test during the coverage of the citizen demonstration of last September 13, one of the most relevant mobilizations in recent years. This event was covered in a limited or biased way by a high percentage of television stations. For this reason the advance of the government against those who covered the events in a broader way puts into play not only corporate and power interests, but also the right of the people to be informed. In a recent decision, the Federal Supreme Court ruled that on December 7 this year the injunction expires that withholds enforcement of two articles of the Media Law concerning the Clarín Group. The Federal Authority on Audiovisual Communication Services (AFSCA) broadcast an advertising spot during the Soccer for Everyone program during private media prime time, attempting to give its interpretation of the decision by the high court. From this ad and from statements made by a number of government workers, it may be inferred that the government understands that by that date the Clarín Group must present a plan for its media to begin an immediate dismantling process. The justices who spoke to the matter agree that on that date three things may happen that are different from what the official campaign suggests: There could be a decision on the basis of the question (the constitutionality of the two articles), an extension of the injunction; or the time could begin to run on the one-year period contemplated by the Law for disinvestment on the part of those groups that exceed the maximum number of licenses stipulated. In this context, two weeks ago there was an improper attempt to recuse an independent member of the Magistrate Council, the organization that proposes lists of three names to fill judicial vacancies.This recusal would permit the government to obtain the majority it needs to propose or remove judges, putting at risk the independence of the judicial branch. One of the vacancies to be covered is on the court that is to decide on the legal situation of the Clarín Group. Selective enforcement of the Media Law sets off an alarm regarding what could happen in the near future. There are a number of media groups that do not meet the terms of various articles of the law, and do not have injunctions and which, nonetheless, have not been intimated to compliance with what is stipulated. Silvia Vázquez, a former national deputy and author of the Media Law, sustained that the law could be used as a “lynching” against a specific media group and recognized that there are major questions pending in terms of its enforcement. Results have not been announced of the media census—a necessary precursor to readjustment of the broadcast space, nor has a technical plan been drawn up to guarantee the feasibility of the new media, nor has a successful competition been held to turn over the television licenses. The precarious enforcement of the law, approved three years ago, generates a reasonable fear that it will end up producing a weak collection of media that in general will not be sustainable and will have to depend on government economic support, and thus lose all possibility of independence. The recent designation of a self-styled Kirchnerist militant at the head of the AFSCA, and the absence of representatives of the opposition on its board, adds to the well-based fear of use of the law for the purpose of dismantling a particular media group. A special paragraph merits the high number of attacks that journalists have recorded in recent months. A recent report of the LED Foundation (Freedom of Expression + Democracy) indicates that in the first half of this year 161 attacks against journalists or media were reported. This is a higher number than that computed by FOPEA (Forum of Argentine Journalism) for all of 2011. Gustavo Tinetti, of Radio Cadema Nueva, 9 of July, in the Province of Buenos Aires; Sergio Loguzzo of 6,7,8; Hernán Lascano, of La Capital; Rosario Aníbal Parma of FM Génesis, Formosa; Rodrigo Alegre, David Santiesteba and Federico Gancolfi, of Periodismo para Todos, are some of the journalists who were threatened or physically attacked by unknown persons, members of social organizations, or demonstrators on public ways, based on their journalistic work, within the period under analysis. Jorge Lanata and members of his team were detained by Venezuelan agents at the international airport of Caracas, who interrogated them about the sources of their reports, and they appropriated their news equipment and erased its content. The aggresive acts suffered by Daniel Luna, from Canal 4 in Candelaría, Misiones; Hernán García, from FM Uno in Sancti Spiritu, Santa Fe; Marcelo Bertolino, of FM Estudio 2 in Pilar; and Gonzalo Rodríguez of CQC in Pinamar, blamed high officials of those places as instigators. The acts of aggression suffered by Daniel Luna, of Canal 4 of Candelaria, Misiones; Hernán García, of FM Luno in Sancti Spiritu, Santa Fe; Marcelo Bertolino, of FM Estudio 2, in Pilar; and Gonzalo Rodríguez of CQC in Pinamoar, had as their instigators high officials of those localities. Jorge Lanata and members of his team were detained by Venezuelan agents in the international airport of Caracas, who interrogated him about the source of his reports; they took his news-gathering equipment, and erased its contents. On the other hand, there subsists disequality between the newspapers of Junin, Democracia and La Verdad, the latter published by the Archbishop of Luján-Mercedes, which was exempted from taxes by the Federal Administration of Public Revenues, thus affecting the equality before the law and free competition.