Argentina: PMA calls on Milei to protect public service media

21st November 2023
In the build-up to the election, Javier Milei pledged to privatise Argentina’s public media sector.
Close up of President elect of Argentina, Javier Milei.
Buenos Aires, Argentina; August 13 2023; Close-up of Javier Milei while voting in the PASO elections in Argentina. Credit: Facundo Florit /

The Public Media Alliance urges the President elect of Argentina, Javier Milei, to protect and recognise the vital role public service media plays in democracy. On Sunday, Mr. Millei was elected as the country’s new president for the next four years.

During the presidential campaign, Mr. Milei, the far-right libertarian candidate of La Libertad Avanza (LLA), expressed his intention to eradicate public sector organisations as part of a wide-ranging agenda of privatisation. The country’s public service media sector is included in this – Mr. Milei came to call the public media companies “propaganda mechanisms” part of a “ministry of propaganda” that needed to be privatised.

A few days before the final elections, one of his representatives threatened a reporter of Televisión Pública (TVP), by saying that “We are going to close Public TV, we are going to privatise Public TV. The public media are going to be privatised, so try to be a good worker“.

This threat of privatisation was confirmed shortly after Mr. Milei’s victory, with the president elect stating that “everything that can be in the hands of the private sector will be in the hands of the private sector”.

Read more: The precarious future of public media in Argentina

The intentions of Mr. Milei have been clear from the beginning. During the electoral campaign following the first round, Argentina’s public media sector as well as independent and private media organisations got together to oppose the candidate of LLA, in defence of democracy and labour rights and the protection of freedom of expression.

Argentina’s public media sector currently faces several issues, from accusations of heavy government control, to significant funding problems. Guillermo Mastrini, a researcher and mass media policies expert, told PMA that it has never really been considered as being truly public.

Subscribe toour newsletter

Keep updated with the latest public
media news from around the world

Yet the solution to these significant challenges does not lie in privatisation, but in greater financial investment and political intention to transition the media companies into truly public entities which operate fully in the public interest, without government censorship or control.

Public service media ideally exist to serve society and the public’s interest. Their role in ensuring that the right to information is fulfilled is fundamental to the safeguarding of democracy. The wide geographical presence of public media in Argentina is a great advantage to inform the population as a whole, compared to private media, which tend to be more centralised around big cities. Additionally, funded by the public, they should not be beholden to private vested interests, but compelled to produce content in the public interest.

Independent public service media underpin democracy. They provide a check on power and authority, while increasing the population’s civic awareness and participation. The threat to privatise the public media sector is thus an assault on democracy and on the Argentinian peoples’ access to public service information, education and entertainment content.

Rather than privatising the public broadcasters, PMA calls on Mr. Milei to use his new platform to initiate a transformation of Argentina’s public service media organisations. We urge Mr. Milei to give public media the opportunity to move away from their current shortcomings, towards becoming independent, viable institutions that can operate fully in the service of the public, and consequently, gain the public’s trust.