City TV, radio advertising benefits allies
Following the pattern seen with newspapers, Clarín Group is the top recipient
A media outlet from the Mendoza province linked to a former PRO candidate in Mendoza was the third-largest recipient of official advertising from Buenos Aires City in the first half of 2013, according to official figures.
Following up on yesterday’s Herald report on the way the City government has favoured certain media groups with its advertising largesse, a deeper analysis on ads placed on radio, TV stations and websites receiving public advertising by the PRO administration led by City Mayor Mauricio Macri reveal that Radio Mitre and La 100, both owned by media giant Clarín Group, topped the chart after receiving almost 1.5 million pesos during the first half of 2013.
Other popular conglomerates, including the Indalo Group led by casino mogul Cristóbal López and a group of radios owned by businessman Sergio Spolszki — Metro, Rock and Pop, FM Blue and Splendid — also benefited from the City government. The former received 1.27 million pesos in the first half of 2013, while the latter got 1.07 million pesos during the same period.
But the most surprising presence in the ranking was that of Mendoza’s MDZ FM 105.5, which ended up receiving a little over 992,000 pesos for its radio station in addition to 240,000 pesos for its Internet site — a total of 1,232,590 pesos, two and a half times more than the amount received by Los 40 Principales and Continental, the flagship radio stations of the popular Prisa Group.
“Despite the existence of a law regulating official advertising in the City — that included several articles, including the one forbidding the use of partisan colours for official communications, which were vetoed by Macri — there are no clear criteria yet by which public advertising is allocated, and it’s even less clear why some media outlets are excluded from those funds,” media expert Santiago Marino told the Herald.
“You may say that one criterion to allocate public advertising would be to do it in the most popular radios, such as Mitre and FM 100 (owned by the Clarín Group) and the radios belonging to the Indalo Group, such as FM Pop, Mega and Vale,” Marino added.
“What surprises me is that the third company in the list is a radio station and a web site from Mendoza, linked to the Terranova family, which has a member — rally driver Orlando Terranova — who used to be the best-known face of the PRO party in Mendoza.”
MDZ’s Internet site is run by journalist Christian Sanz, who regularly shows ties to intelligence and police sources.
One of the figures who most benefited from the City’s policy regarding ads was radio host Mario Pergolini, whose Radio Vorterix (linked, in turn, to Spolszki) was granted 1.14 million pesos during the first six months of last year, if funds received by its Internet site are also taken into account.
These figures cannot be annualized, as advertising soared during the second half of last year, when the PASO primaries were held.
As the Herald reported yesterday, the Clarín conglomerate was the biggest recipient of funds after receiving 17 percent of the total funds spent by the City in advertising during the first six months of 2013.
Clarín’s flagship broadcast TV station, Channel 13, received 10.57 million pesos if all affiliates throughout the country are taken into account — a little more than Telefe, owned by the Spanish group Telefónica.
The rest of the media outlets are far behind (América TV with 3.63 million pesos and Channel 9 with 2.09 million pesos), but the most shocking figure is the one granted to state-run Channel 7, also known as TV Pública, as it only received 12,000 pesos (some US$ 1,500) during that semester.
Years ago, in a landmark report for NGO Poder Ciudadano, media expert Martín Becerra had revealed the City had placed almost no advertising on Channel 9 and Channel 7, which regularly criticize Macri’s administration, following a pattern set by President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner administration, who has long failed to allocate a reasonable amount of resources to Clarín-owned Channel 13 and Todo Noticias (TN).
A review of the available data suggests that much like the trends seen in print media, Buenos Aires City heavily favoured cable TV channels that fall under the control of the Clarín Group. City advertising received by the group’s nine channels more than doubled the second-largest recipient of public funds, with the flagship TN channel receiving 1.23 million of the group’s take of 3.56 million pesos.
The FOX group, a member of the Rupert Murdoch global multimedia conglomerate Newscorp, was the next-largest recipient of City funds, mostly by way of its various sports channels.
The Vila-Manzano group, second-largest in the country, received more than one million pesos in the first six months of 2013 by way of its various regional affiliates concentrated in the Cuyo region.
In March, the Herald published that the Macri administration had more than doubled its advertising budget during 2013, according to a report by the non-profit Argentine Association of Budget and Public Finance Administration (ASAP).
This staggering 110.8 percent yearly hike resulted from comparing the 548.4 million pesos the City government spent in advertising during 2013 to the 260.1 million from the previous year.
That same month, the national government published a report that indicated the Fernández de Kirchner administration had increased official advertising spending by 45 percent in the first six months of 2013, compared to a year earlier.
The report was released following a freedom of information request filed by a number of local NGOs.
Additional reporting by Tomás Brockenshire