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Last Updated: Friday, 29 June 2007, 09:46 GMT 10:46 UK
Argentine media: Drama and dreams
By Max Seitz
BBC Mundo, Buenos Aires

Go into a bar in Buenos Aires in the morning and you'll almost certainly see lots of Argentines reading a newspaper over their cups of coffee.

A bar in Buenos Aires
TV sets in the capital's cafes are often tuned in to news programmes
Argentina is one of South America's biggest media markets, but the standard of that media, especially television, is questionable.

Celebrity dancing, reality shows, soap operas and crime news dominate.

"Generally, the quality of TV is low. The aim is to entertain people without having them think, something that our worsening standard of education has fostered," said sociologist Atilio Boron.

There are more than 150 newspapers in Argentina, hundreds of commercial radio stations, dozens of terrestrial TV channels and one of the biggest regional take-ups of cable.

Credibility

The media are predominantly in private hands and form media conglomerates.

MEDIA MARKET
In a series of articles BBC correspondents in Latin America examine the state and scope of the region's media

For example, the Clarin newspaper belongs to the same group that owns sports paper Ole, Channel 13 (terrestrial) and Todo Noticias TV (All-News TV - cable).

Public service media have never played a major role - and in Argentina public service is often mistaken for government service.

Stations like state-owned Channel 7 are not seen as very credible by the audience, being regarded as an extension of the government.

The four main newspapers are:

  • Clarin: popular newspaper covering a variety of news from culture to crime. Media analysts say this varied offering stems from economic rather than political reasons. Clarin's aim is to appeal to the widest possible readership and so generate profits for the parent company.
  • La Nacion: centre-right, represents farming sector and upper middle class. It is currently the main paper opposing President Nestor Kirchner's government.
  • Pagina 12: Before Mr Kirchner was elected, it was the typical centre-left paper that covered issues other media do not even mention. Now it is seen as pro-government.
  • Cronica: tabloid daily.

Strong views

A customer in our Buenos Aires bar might typically listen to a news radio station like Continental or Diez (Ten).

Continental has journalists with a wide range of political views and its presenters impose their personal style on programmes.

Diez - a favourite of Buenos Aires taxi drivers - has right-wing presenters who speak up in support of taking a hard line and even defend some aspects of the last military government.

Argentine TV
Dramatic crime news gets plenty of coverage
Televisions in bars are generally showing one of two cable channels - Cronica TV or TN.

The first, which trumpets its popularity, gives viewers plenty of sensational crime stories and "exclusives" that it has had to retract on more than one occasion.

TN, a 24-hour news channel, has a greater variety of programmes but at times it seems as if it is finding it difficult to fill its airtime.

Big Brother

In terms of evening viewing, there are two hit TV shows, Dancing For A Dream (Channel 13) and Big Brother (Channel 2), which are imports that have been given a national flavour.

Dancing, based on Britain's Strictly Come Dancing, pairs a celebrity and a "dreamer" - a contestant who hopes to win in order to make a dream come true, such as buying equipment for their local hospital.

In Big Brother, as elsewhere around the world, the show is made up of mainly trivial conversations, with participants sometimes shown naked or engaged in sexual activities.

And as elsewhere in Latin America, there is an abundance of soap operas, either locally produced or from other parts of the region.

What is on offer seems to say not only much about the media, but also the audience.


SEE ALSO
Country profile: Argentina
25 May 07 |  Country profiles

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