The current study describes and assesses 14 (free and paid) TV channels, 14 (AM and FM) radio stations, ten printed newspapers and 14 news websites, which define news production and distribution in Argentina. Most of the media outlets chosen in the study are owned by the most concentrated media groups in the country. As a result, by following the methodology implemented by Reporters without Borders in the MOM project in other countries, the main shareholders, as well as their economic activities, are identified within and outside the media system, in spite of many media companies not being transparent about their owners.
The Argentinian media map shows that the industry is mainly controlled by commercial, private companies, most of which are located in the Metropolitan Area of Buenos Aires and in another four big cities. They concentrate audience shares, income from private and official advertising, and news production. While in TV there are foreign channels with a strong local presence, print, online and radio are mostly managed by Argentinian companies. State-owned media outlets depend on the National Government and are less massive.
Argentina’s National Government provides media companies with the largest amounts of direct (official advertising) and indirect (financial help, loan forgiveness, fiscal and social security debt redemption, license extensions, among other mechanisms) funds. As a result, the National Government’s indirect influence is also important, except for those companies that are more consolidated. Most media outlets’ editorial line and ownership are therefore very influenced by changes in government.
All the media outlets in the MOM study show high levels of ownership and audience concentration. Concentration levels are even higher if audiences are measured based on the number of “unique users” in each media support.
The most powerful
Grupo Clarín is the largest media group and has a dominant position in all media segments and other auxiliary and complementary activities (such as holding a majority interest in the only newsprint factory in the country, Papel Prensa S.A., together with La Nacion and the National Government). It also became the largest business corporation two years ago, when its shareholders purchased one of the wealthiest companies of Argentina, thanks to the official approval of the merger between Cablevisión and Telecom. As a result, Grupo Clarín grew its power not only in the media market, but also in the area of telecoms and internet access (fixed and mobile internet services).
Clarín’s leading role can also be measured. Its revenues are largely higher than those of its direct competitors. In addition, it is the only conglomerate that has considerable market power in all the areas of the large and convergent media and telecoms industry.
Other less important conglomerates in the Argentinian media market are Grupo América (formerly, Grupo UNO), which has focused on open TV and radio since it sold its cable TV company (Supercanal) in 2018; and Grupo Indalo, which holds interests in radio, TV and print, although its future is endangered by the judicial investigation involving the group’s owners, who were in prison at the time this study was being carried out. The remaining media groups are smaller or work in the media industry exclusively. They are part of horizontal concentration processes, which are partial when compared to Grupo Clarín’s concentration levels.
The most popular TV stations are mainly of foreign capitals (with Viacom owning the largest TV network, and Turner and Fox owning some of the most poCanal 13pular TV channels), except for the TV network that has Grupo Clarín’s as its headend. Among online news portals, Infobae (Grupo Infobae) ranks first, followed by Clarín and La Nacion. Grupo Clarín and its media in the interior of the country – La Voz del Interior (in Córdoba) and Los Andes (in Mendoza) – led the declining print market, where La Nacion and Diario Popular are also important players. Radio is the medium with the highest number of owners. However, audience concentration levels are significant, since only a few groups (Clarín, América, Indalo, Cadena 3) control most of the Argentinian market through their several radio stations and repeaters.