Argentine government accused of using film promotion institute to get free TV ads

Juan Pablo Conti ©RapidTVNews | 11-10-2011

Argentine newspaper Clarín has suggested that a competition run by the country's film promotion institute to help boost content for the new DTT platform is in fact a government scheme designed to gain a free ride on primetime TV ad time.
In an article published on Sunday, the daily named Jorge Devoto (former husband of Liliana Mazure, the current head of Argentina's National Institute for Film and Audiovisual Arts, or Incaa) as the mastermind behind the alleged fraud.
Referring to the competition as "Series for all", the author of the story denounced that the 45 million Pesos (US$10.6 million) that were granted to support the production of ten fictional TV series of 13 episodes each ended up in the hands of TV producers linked to Incaa officials.
"The key point of the plan, besides giving the government the power to influence content programming [at commercial broadcasters], is that the series must start being broadcast before the October presidential elections (some already have started) and that TV stations that do show them must give the Government six minutes of primetime advertising space per episode," Gerardo Young wrote.

According to the author's calculations, if the Government could for example get América TV (the commercial broadcaster from the Federal Capital area with the least expensive per-second TV ad fees) to carry one of the series, the Government would be gaining automatic access to commercial air time worth over 830,000 Pesos (US$196,000) per episode.
Since this is significantly more than what the Government spent to produce each episode (US$ 85,000 on average), the journalist argues that taxpayer funds are being used to both influence the editorial direction of commercial broadcasters and gain access to valuable advertising air time at a significant discount.
The presidential elections will take place on 23 October, and the current head of state, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, is overwhelming favourite to win a second term in office.