According to Internacional Nacional Foro , freedom of the press is precarious in several South American countries.
"Both Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and the Inter American Press Association (IAPA) report a worsening situation in the region in recent years. Repression and open threats have come from national and sub-national governments, and even from criminal organizations. Moreover, the persistence of such pressures often results in media self-censorship, as they abstain from disseminating political views that are critical of powerful government or private interests.
Many reports focus on the threat of three left wing (“populist”) national governments to freedom of the press in their countries, all considered “partly free” by Freedom House. This is the case of Venezuela, where opposition media such as RCTV television channel have been systematically closed down. In Bolivia and Ecuador, government threats against opposition media have been much more frequent than actual repressive measures—notwithstanding some controversial newer laws restricting media ownership and news content.
However, press freedom is not only endangered in such countries. In others like Colombia and Peru, less overt government pressure is reported but there are serious allegations of government-directed threats and aggression against opposition media and individual journalists. Right-leaning Colombia has a bleak record of murdered journalists and is the lowest ranked country in South America according to RSF.
Recent worrisome incidents have even affected two countries that are broadly perceived as having satisfactory freedom of expression conditions. In Argentina, the government has been accused of intimidating the major newspaper El Clarín, while in Chile right wing President-elect Piñera owns one of the major television networks and has only accepted transferring ownership to a foundation that is also under his control."
Implications from Internacional Nacional Foro :
These trends towards concentrated control over media are especially dangerous in countries with a history of authoritarian leadership and lacking strong democratic institutions. If such trends continue, the doors are open for less democratic forms of governance and for increasingly conflictive relations between the state and minority or underprivileged groups. This may require intensified efforts to preserve and defend press freedoms in the region during the coming years.
Implications from IFTF:
It’s notable that this trend is not limited to governments with either a left or right-wing ideology. Looking for other commonalities in these countries could help predict which nations elsewhere in the world could be suceptible to encroachments on freedom of the press.
Internacional Nacional Foro, February, 2010, page 2: