Argentina’s President Moves to Wrest Control of Newsprint Supplier from Nation’s Largest Newspapers

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By: The Associated Press

Argentina’s president has moved to take over the nation’s main supplier of newsprint, saying two leading newspapers illegally conspired with dictators to control the company three decades ago and then used it to drive competing newspapers out of business.

President Cristina Fernandez said on Tuesday as she began a national address that Grupo Clarin and La Nacion used the newsprint company, Papel Prensa SA, to impose media monopolies on Argentina, stifling other viewpoints by refusing to sell paper at fair prices to competitors.

She showed a headline from the opposition Clarin newspaper saying “Who controls Papel Prensa controls the written word”, and said she couldn’t agree more.

“Papel Prensa is the only company that produces newsprint in this country,” Fernandez said, “and it’s a vertically integrated monopoly. It determines who it sells to, how much it sells and at what price. And so yes, whoever controls it controls the written word in the Republic of Argentina.”

It wasn’t immediately clear what concrete action the president planned to take on the newsprint company, which since the 1976-83 dictatorship has been jointly owned in roughly three equal shares by Clarin, La Nacion and Argentina’s government – now her leftist administration, which is pushing prosecutions of crimes against humanity committed by the military junta.

Alejandro Aguirre, president of the Inter American Press Association (IAPA), said the press freedom organization was concerned the intention of the  government is to “control the independent media.” Aguirre, a subdirector of Diario Las Americas in Miami, said there had been in recent weeks “a dangerous escalation against the freedom of expression that affects all citizens” in Argentina.
AP with contribution by E&P Staff

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