“You were talking about introducing BBC standards in Polish public media, but in reality you made Russia Today of them.” It was one of many critical remarks opposition MPs made on the night of 29 December 2015 in the Polish Parliament as the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party expeditiously pushed through the bill allowing the Minister of Treasury to change all executives at public television and radio immediately. The remark was related to Russia Today (RT), Russia’s international broadcaster, known as the mouthpiece of the Russian government.
The procedure for exercising the right of reply in the approved law was shaped by the dominant television groups that have consistently lobbied for retaining the power to decide whether or not to rectify facts disseminated in their shows, newscasts or other programs. They won this game and retained their power. This is why many experts and journalists say that the right of reply law favors the interests of mighty media groups (many of them close to political groups) instead of those of the citizens.
Six years ago, the Kirchner government, at loggerheads with the powerful Clarin media group, adopted legislation to hurt dominant players in the country’s media. But not much has changed since then. An analysis from Martin Becerra.
October 2015 was the sixth anniversary of the audiovisual law that replaced a broadcasting act in Argentina, which was inherited from the country’s last military dictatorship (1976-1983). Before 2009, that law had undergone amendments during a period of 20 years. For the past 12 years, the Argentinian presidency was shared by the Kirchners, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner and her late husband, Nestor Kirchner. The Kirchner era is ending today as Argentines go to polls to elect a new president. They can’t vote Mrs Kirchner again as she is barred by law from seeking a third term.
A revised press code in Morocco was hoped to give journalists more room to report freely. But a closer look shows that nothing has really changed.
The gravest legal threat to media freedom in Morocco are the laws that restrict the type of content that can be publicly communicated. The 2002 Press Code and the 2003 antiterrorism law put forward criminal penalties for any criticism of “sacred” issues such as the monarchy, Islam and territorial integrity. These laws continue to be applied to online activity, resulting in the prosecution of several online journalists and activists. The minister of communication, Mustapha El Khalfi, in an attempt to modernize the Press Code, released an updated version for review and consultation by civil society in October 2014. The law has not yet been submitted to Parliament for final approval and adoption.
But does this updated law solve all the journalists’ problems? Far from it.