Pablo Antonini is president of the Foro Argentino de Radios Comunitarias (FARCO). Credit: Radio Estación Sur
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — A wave of closures, equipment confiscation and detention of several alternative FM stations’ key staff has driven community radios in Argentina to ask the media watchdog Ente Nacional de Comunicaciones (ENACOM) to reconsider certain regulations and the way in which it applies them.
Specifically, the broadcasters believe some policies of the current government are arbitrary and excessive and ignore the appropriate process. Pablo Antonini, president of Argentina’s community radios forum, Foro Argentino de Radios Comunitarias, criticizes some decisions made by ENACOM.
He says the regulator has turned issues “as serious as the power to close, seize, or to decide permit or license expiration into simple internal administrative acts, giving greater scope for possible abuses and arbitrariness.”
On May 2, ENACOM Directors Alejandro Pereyra and Heber Martínez held a meeting with media specialists to try to resolve the conflict. During the discussion, the broadcasters pointed to the need to modify the resolutions issued by the agency that have fueled current tensions.
“Argentine President Mauricio Macri along with ENACOM President Miguel De Godoy have instructed us to work through our differences by means of dialogue, and we believe that this [meeting] was a great step forward,” said Martinez. “We strive to work closely with broadcasters to continually improve directives.”
Many observers however are unhappy with the outcome of the meeting and lament a lack of concrete measures being taken. This led to a protest on May 12, organized by the Coalición por una Comunicación Democrática, in front of ENACOM’s offices.
Laura Yanella of the Asociación Mundial de Radios Comunitarias and a CCD member, says the regulator “is not carrying out its obligations” and legislation under Macri “has been regressive for the community broadcast sector.”
Media advocates are demanding that ENACOM’s future actions aim to democratize the entire communication system. “Both sides need to approach discussions with an open mind,” said Antonini. “This will allow us to present a variety of opportunities and work together toward meeting them.”
The full text of the ENACOM resolutions can be found at www.enacom.gob.ar/normativas.