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Media in the contemporary world has become a mean of communication through which people connect on a global basis. Information, news and data from all possible geographical locations are spreading vastly on television and internet. Aside from facilitating information access, the contemporary media outlets have enabled people to express their thoughts and views. However, as much as they can empower the public’s opinion, they can also influence and manipulate it by distorting facts and focusing people’s attention on specific topics.
Thus, the fundamental civil rights are being violated without people’s acknowledgement.Protecting people’s rights is one of the aims of the United Nations. Upholding the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the organization has previously attempted to impose control over media coverage. Considering the massive impact media has over society and the lack of restrictions of content, in 2014, the UN have passed a resolution regarding the protection of civil and political rights. It aimed at promoting safe access to information and awareness of media influence.
The latter has also been stressed by a statement presented to the United Nations by the non-governmental organization Maarij Foundation for Peace and Development. The declaration expresses the organization’s concerns regarding social media and calls upon the United Nations for further operations. Taking into consideration how influential media has become, it is logical to believe that news coverage affects public opinion. Different contexts, analyses and reports indirectly reflect on people’s behavior and involvement in the political environment. Thus, the issue should be addressed and handled thoughtfully.
After the end of the authoritarian regime in 1983, Argentina has brought back the constitution and consolidated democratic values in the nation which allowed the citizens to choose their government and freely express their opinion. As a result, media in Argentina eliminated censorship, gained more power and most significantly its ownership was divided within a few groups. Importantly, the majority of the key agents belonged and were influenced by the private sector and not by the state. Since then, media has become subjective to the interests of these companies. As a result, all televisions and radios began representing American content and locating all their production in regional centers. As a result, the government of Argentina has decided to impose regulations over media ownership in order to prevent excessive broadcasting concentration. In 2009 the Audiovisual Communication Services Law was passed. The decision restricts companies from having more than 10 different licenses, which previously had been limited to 24. This has ultimately caused companies to sell almost half of their assets in order to continue working. The law has been criticized and said to have restrained the freedom of speech. However, six out of the seven members of the Supreme Court of Argentina asserted that the law does not violate the freedom of expression. In fact, it has given a better chance for non-influenced broadcasts to spread different contents and opinions. The media reform has allowed no more than 35% of the broadcasting to be taken up by private companies. The rest is handled by non-profit and national productions. Furthermore, Argentina was the first country to adopt a law regulating the broadcasting of the private sector in Latin America. The issue Argentina was facing is relevant to almost all South American countries. This is because the majority of them had also experienced authoritarian regimes in the past and suffered the consequences of it.№‚In this respect the UN Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Opinion andExpression, Frank La Rue, has stated publicly that Argentina is setting a precedent[…] not only for Latin America but for the whole world’ (Telam, 2009).® Various strategies and plans have been implemented throughout the last decades so that media focus is diminished. However, after the law has been passed, the government of Argentina has become apathetic about its administration which ultimately allows some forms of media centralization to still exist. Even though television is still the most preferable medium (about 81% of the population states) , with the rapid technology advancement happening in the recent years, Argentina faces even bigger problem regarding its media influence. The United Nations have attempted to deal with similar issues before. Examples of which are the previously mentioned resolutions and statements regarding the problem with media coverage and privacy on the internet. Argentina has taken part and supported both of them as well as other resolutions recognizing the power of media and information presented over the public opinion. However, the United Nations have not yet taken into account the particular situation of media concentration taking place at almost every Latin American country. As one of the global organization defending human rights and promoting the welfare of all countries, The United Nations should consider the challenges Argentina, together with a number of other countries, faces. Presenting the problems before a broader audience will inevitably convey and spread the concerns of the nations all around the world. This ultimately will raise awareness and eventually contribute in resolving the issue. To conclude, the situation in Argentina serves as an example that media not always requires legal restrictions at all cost. Sometimes it is necessary for one sector to be regulated so that another could be empowered. The end goal is for media to be as little subjective as possible. Organizations such as the United Nation should continue exploring various issues related to the media but also consider the situation in South America.
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