The climate of press freedom continues to worsen. Blockades suffered by Buenos Aires newspapers and those in the interior, pressures applied by members of the executive and legislative branches of government on the judiciary regarding the Clarín case, the death of journalist Nicolás Pacheco are three of the most serious attacks suffered by the press in this period. But the harshest assault in recent times has been the advertising boycott which threatens the survival of several Argentine newspapers. On October 29, members of the Newspapers and Magazines Vendors Union blockaded the print plants of a dozen newspapers in Buenos Aires, preventing the distribution of more than half a million copies. One month later the newspaper El Día in La Plata suffered a blockade that obstructed distribution of its copies. The judiciary has declared that the right to express oneself should be subordinated to the right of citizens to be informed. The police and authorities responded to these outrages with lack of action and silence. On December 7, the date set by the Supreme Court for putting an end to the precautionary measure that prevented the application of certain articles of the Audiovisual Communication Services Law to the Grupo Clarín group was preceded by multiple pressures, threatening remarks and ill-timed resolutions linked to an apparent attempt to prevent a court ruling against the government. In the days and weeks prior to the so-called “7D” the government mounted an intense campaign in state-owned and privately-owned media against Clarín. The governing majority in Congress rapidly adopted a “per saltum” (without intermediate stages) procedure to sidestep lower court proceedings. There was a suggestive naming of associate judges to fill vacancies, there was an attempt to recuse opposition members of the body that proposes future judges, and appeals court judges who were to rule in the case resigned or recused themselves, some of them alleging non-physical violence. “If this is to put pressure on the courts, welcome to the pressure,” declared a government senator in reference to a bill to regulate the “per saltum” procedure. On December 5, the Justice Minister declared that an extension of the current precautionary measure would signify “an uprising” against a law of the nation. That day, the federal government recused all the members of the Federal Civil and Commercial Court that had to pronounce on the matter. The following day, in an unprecedented public statement the Judicial Independence Commission, Magistrates Association, Argentine Federation of Magistrates and the Federal Board of Tribunals and High Courts in the provinces and Buenos Aires called on the Executive Branch not to meddle in areas that are the domain of the Judicial Branch. Some hours later, the Civil and Commercial Court extended the precautionary measure. Seven days later, the judge hearing the case pronounced on its basis in a suggestively rapid ruling, with controversial arguments, on the constitutionality of the articles questioned by Clarín. The newspaper group appealed the ruling and now awaits the decision of the Appeals Court, which the Chief of the Cabinet of Ministers belittled in a public speech. The representatives of the government and those of Clarín coincided in that it will be the Supreme Court that will rule on the case. An IAPA committee was present in Buenos Aires in the first week of December and noticed that what was in play were not financial and business interests but the question of freedom of expression. The selective application of the “Media Law,” the lack of transparency in its application, failure by the government to comply with its requirements and defects in its application indicate that it is being used with the objective of silencing critical voices. One of the first acts of the Office of Ombudsman, a body anticipated under the Audiovisual Communication Services Law and recently set up, was to arrange with Radio Nacional radio network a journalistic investigation into the effects that there could be to the health of the people of the use of a chemical compound in electric transformers placed in Jujuy province. The case causes concern because it amounts to an interference by the government in journalistic content. In early January, the National General Audit Office, a body responsible for external control of the public administration, issued a report on the use of 2,320 million pesos (some $460 million) set aside for official advertising between 2007 and 2010. The report states that in 2009 59% of the federal government’s advertising expenditure was concentrated in five media out of 365 and that the distribution was not related to the size of their audiences. In that year, a media outlet with a press run 10 times less than that of one of its competitors received more than twice as much official advertising. National Budget Office figures indicate that during 2012 more than $1.4 million was spent in the communications area. More than one fourth of this amount went to “Futbol para Todos” (Soccer For All), a program that nationalized the television broadcasts of soccer games and which has the government as its almost exclusive advertiser, and to official advertising, which continues to be placed in a discretionary manner without taking into account the size of audience or limits on the propagandistic use of those resources. Around $180 million was spent on maintaining state-owned media, which continue to harbor programs that systematically discredit the press that is not aligned with the government. The discretionary use of public resources and intimidations through officials or agencies of control has led to the sale of a number of media, purchased by government contractors, and changes in their editorial stances. Numerous firings and resignations of journalists occurred in recent months due to these changes. Access by the press to official sources and data concerning government activity continues to be restricted. President Cristina de Kirchner continues failing to hold press conferences and using the national network with objectives that are not envisioned in the Audiovisual Communication Services Law. The Supreme Court ruled, in recent decisions, that official advertising may not be used to reward or punish media for their editorial stance and that everyone has a right to know the manner in which his or her members of government and officials do their work. Laws that regulate access to information and the distribution of official advertising continue to be pending. Among the journalists that have been the object of physical attacks while carrying out their work and during the period covered here mention can be made of Pablo Procopio of the newspaper La Capital, whose car was shot at as he was covering a picketing by residents of the city of Rosario; Néstor Dib of C5N television channel, who was beaten during a street demonstration labeled “8N” in Buenos Aires; José Escudero of Canal 12 television of Córdoba, stoned during a demonstration; Rodrigo Saliva of the newscast “TodoNoticias,” whose car was destroyed while he was covering looting in Bariloche; Julieta Elgul of Canal 7 television, who was injured by a rubber bullet fired by a Metropolitan Police officer during a protest that took place in Buenos Aires; Sergio Villegas of FM Dimensión radio, who was threatened and attacked with noise bombs during a march in Santa Cruz province; Oscar Di Vincenzi of the newspaper PerteneSer in Alberti, Buenos Aires province, was sprayed with agricultural chemicals by a fumigator; Sebastián Granata of the newspaper Rosario 12, who was violently thrown out of a meeting of the Agrarian Federation in Rosario, and Mario Fedorischak of the newspaper Primera Edición, beaten by Misiones province police while covering a police raid. Journalist Adrián Subelza of the newspaper Crónica de Buenos Aires was attacked after having investigated and published news of the malpractice against and and resulting death of Celeste Abigail Morales Becerra, just seven years of age, in the hospital of Malvinas, Argentina. Subelza, along with other journalists, were attcked violently by more than 60 muscular persons, with firecrackers and even shooting mustard gas. Threatened or verbally attacked were Tomás Eliaschev of Revista 23 magazine, Buenos Aires; Marcelo Blasco of the weekly La Palabra de Lobos, Buenos Aires province, Javier Rivarola of FM Radio 21 in Caleta Olivia, Santa Cruz, and Daniel Polaczinski, a reporter with FM Radio U in the missionary town of Aristóbulo del Valle. In the third week of January on a Buenos Aires street and in some towns in Buenos Aires province there appeared numerous defamatory posters which suggested that Jorge Lanata had modified his work as a journalist for financial reasons. Early in February, Nelson Castro was invited to get out by the owner of a Buenos Aires bar, who told him that he was not welcome there. Not only journalists but the people at large are suffering a climate fed by confrontational and intimidatory speeches that generate fear, irritation and polarization. Ricardo Darín, for example, was the recipient of a letter from the Argentine President, published on a social network, concerning statements made by the actor reproduced in a magazine. The Twitter and Facebook accounts of many high-ranking public officials tend to be full of discrediting of media or of members of the public who question any aspect of their work. Regarding lawsuits taken out by officials against journalists for their investigations, worth mentioning are those made by the head of the Federal Public Revenue Administration against Luis Majul and Matías Longoni, seeking damages of 1,337,167 pesos, equivalent to some $270,000, each. The most serious case of attacks on journalists in these last six months was the death of Nicolás Pacheco, host of the “Racing o nada” (Racing Or Nothing) program broadcast by Radio Cadena Eco network. His lifeless body was discovered on January 24 in the pool of the Buenos Aires club Racing. The absence of water in his lungs and the injuries found to his head and chest led to the theory that he had been murdered, although there has been no relevant progress in clarifying what had happened. Threats against the main advertisers in the press for them to withdraw their commercial ads from certain media need to be pointed out because of their extraordinary seriousness. Starting on February 7 a large number of the leading supermarket and electric appliance provider chains in the country suspended placement of their advertisements in media in Buenos Aires and in cities in the interior. Executives of those chains said that the decision was the result of verbal demands made by the Interior Commerce Secretary and were connected to recent regulations on the freezing of prices. This pressure on the advertisers, which has an effect on business owners who fear being inspected by tax officials or not being able to import goods, is a different kind of censorship and a violation of the right of customers to know the price or availability of the products they are thinking of purchasing. It also is one of the most serious setbacks the independent press has suffered to its financial viability. The newspapers La Nación and Perfil have already lost 15% to 20% of their advertising revenue in the period of the boycott. Clarín has gone from having 264 pages of ads by the companies in that sector in January to 61 in February. It is estimated that the annual impact would amount to a loss for the newspapers of $70 million. This sudden withdrawal of these advertisers undermines the financial well-being of the news companies that suffer it. In recent days, the boycott has been joined by new participants. The company Telefónica pulled out all its annual advertising from La Nación and newspapers in the Grupo Clarín group. Without financial autonomy there can be no editorial independence. In a context in which the media map is changing dramatically with the sale of radio networks to those who do a lot of business with the government and the co-opting of news companies through the placement of official advertising, the voices that seek to express themselves freely run the risk of being silenced forever.