Accepted paper:

Democratising the public sphere? The challenge of media reform in Argentina


Robbie Macrory (University College London)

Paper short abstract:

This paper investigates recent media reform in Argentina, focusing on new legislation that may enhance freedom of expression by tackling concentrated ownership and improving diversity. It also addresses contradictions between the law’s normative advances and the challenges of its implementation.

Paper long abstract:

Following the emergence of the 'new left' in Latin America, many governments have become increasingly active in the area of media policy. This has led to intense debates on the relationship between media regulation, freedom of expression and democratic consolidation. Such activity also represents a clear reversal of policy after limited state involvement in this sphere since the transition to democratic government in the 1980s. Taking the 2009 Argentine media law as a case study, this paper argues that regulatory reform is essential for strengthening the democratic role of the media in Latin America by tackling patterns of concentrated media ownership, supporting the non-profit and community media sector, and reinvigorating public service broadcasting. This type of structural reform of the media landscape, which enhances access to the diverse range of information sources needed for a healthy political debate, potentially demonstrates the positive role that states can play in improving freedom of expression in consolidating democracies. Despite these normative advances, which have been supported by regional institutions such as Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression at the Organisation of American States, this paper will also highlight the disjuncture between the ambitions of Argentina's media law and the contradictions in its implementation, and is supported by a recent period of extended fieldwork.

panel P43
Media and public interest in 21st century Latin America