BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) - Argentina's broadcast media regulator has new rules for television news: From now own, subtitles must be added showing where and when video was recorded.
Audiovisual authority President Martin Sabbatella says failing to identify the place and time of events shown on TV news "is especially serious when it involves violence, protests, tragedies or problems in public spaces." Viewers should know if trouble is happening right now where they live, or has already been taken care of somewhere else, he says.
The new rules require old news video to be clearly labeled "archive." Live shots must identify the location, while video recorded earlier the same day must include the hour as well as the place.
Two television producers told The Associated Press on Tuesday that their stations wouldn't comply until their lawyers reviewed the order. They said adding subtitles would be costly and time consuming, since it requires more editing work. The producers spoke on condition of anonymity to avoid their stations suffering repercussions for appearing to challenge the enforcers of a recently upheld media law that imposes many new controls over broadcast content.
Free speech advocate Claudio Paolillo has no problem with the new rules. As president of the Inter-American Press Association's press freedom commission, the Uruguayan newspaper editor said it's simply good journalism to clearly identify content.
"No journalist or news operation should refuse to do what good journalism practices suggest," Paolillo told the AP. "If the event is of public interest and they're using images for this information, they have to say where and when they're from."
Government officials have sought to make scapegoats of critical media companies, saying that when a weeklong series of police strikes over higher pay prompted scattered looting in many Argentine provinces, some TV stations played and replayed scenes of violence without identifying where or when it happened. Cabinet chief Jorge Capitanich and others said this fostered a sense of chaos and encouraged more crimes.
"If the government wants to use this to limit or censor the images that don't please the government, this would be a serious attack on freedom of expression," said Paolillo, who led a recent international delegation examining Argentina's press freedoms. On the other hand, "it seems good to me that the images they show while they talk and talk show where and when the images took place."
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