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Channels must detail date, time of images

During the social unrest of last week, channels often broadcast images without specifying their origin.
By Federico Poore
Herald Staff

Resolution by AFSCA media watchdog passes unanimously after widespread lootings

All nationwide TV channels must indicate from now on the time and location of images depicted on the screen, the AFSCA media watchdog led by Martín Sabbatella said yesterday.

The measure was approved unanimously during an AFSCA board of directors meeting held Thursday — meaning the directors who represent the opposition also approved the measure. That makes the decision particularly notable considering that until recently AFSCA lacked full opposition representation.

“The vagueness of where certain events are taking place — if it has already happened or if it is happening at the time of the transmission — is particularly serious when dealing with protests, acts of violence, tragedies or conflicts in the public space,” Sabbatella said.

“This problem affects the right to information and has a direct impact on the lives of media users,” he added.

‘FILE’ or ‘LIVE’?

Article 1 of the resolution explains that national broadcast channels must indicate “in a clear and legible way” the time and location of events, as well as mandate that the expression “FILE” (“ARCHIVO”) when depicting images that were recorded before the day they were aired.

According to Article 2 of the resolution, if channels broadcast “images transmitted from the time and place of the events,” they must bear the inscription “LIVE.”

Finally, news or images recorded that same day but not broadcast live should depict a sign with the inscription “TODAY” — as well as other boxes indicating the time and place where the events took place.

A fourth article, which was not published in the news release by the media watchdog, discusses sanctions that will be imposed on broadcasters who fail to comply with this new resolution.

An AFSCA source told the Herald the department would be “understanding” if channels fail to comply with the decision during the first few weeks.

“We won’t demand an immediate response by news shows — we’ll be working with them the same way we’re doing now to progressively provide access to their services for visually and hearing-impaired people,” the source added.

Fighting paranoia

The decision by the agency led by Sabbatella comes after weeks of social conflict throughout the country, a time during which several media outlets illustrated the crisis with both live and file footage.

“We wanted to be careful (with this resolution) because the Broadcast Media Law does not interfere with content,” an AFSCA spokesman told the Herald. “But here we’re dealing with rights that have to do with access to information.” That broad category means the decision would fall under the purview of the AFSCA.

Officials from the media watchdog say discussions were already underway, but that the lootings of recent weeks (when media outlets sometimes used file footage and failed to explain when it was recorded, leading many to believe that those crises were ongoing) helped to “push” the debate.

Sabbatella and AFSCA directors Ignacio Saavedra, Claudio Schifer and Néstor Avalle welcomed the resolution, while Marcelo Stubrin — appointed by the Radical (UCR) party — and Gerardo “Jerry” Milman from the Broad Progressive Front (FAP) also approved the decision.

The measure will become effective once published in the Official Gazette, which may take place “today or tomorrow,” according to official sources.

@fedebillie

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