18 August 1998



SAN JOSE, COSTA RICA (August 18) -The Executive Committee of the Inter American Press Association rejected a proposed law with which Argentina intends to extend a general value-added tax to the media. The legislative bill, originally introduced by the Executive Power of this country, is on the verge of being considered in the Argentine parliament. The high body of the IAPA considered that the bill would increase the tax pressure on the media, "it would claim the free press as its direct victim, especially small and medium-sized media organizations." The IAPA Executive Committee recalled that this measure would affect numerous media in the Argentine territory, media that lay the groundwork for democracy by providing the necessary diversity and pluralism of voices. "It is the duty of every government,"stressed the IAPA in its meeting at the opening of the Chapultepec Conference on Freedom of Expression in San José-"to watch out for the right of the public to information and to guarantee this plurality so essential for democracy, elements not contemplated in this bill which implies an "asphixiating" tax burden. The top IAPA officials recalled that in recent months they sent a letter to President Carlos Menem in which they urged him to honor previous commitments not to extend the value-added tax to the media since such an  action would be in violation of freedom of the press. Finally, the IAPA urged the Executive Power to maintain firm the precepts of freedom of press and expression, and urged the Argentine Legislative Power to avoid all measures affecting the publics right to information.