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Worrying situation of the Public Defender's Office

Three months ago the Office of the Public Defender is out of town, a circumstance that leaves the agency unable to fully carry out the functions assigned in the current Audiovisual Communication Services Act. This situation runs counter to the recommendations of the CEDAW Committee and aggravates the situation of vulnerability of the rights of the hearings.

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The Office of the Public Defender of Audiovisual Communication, which was created together with the Audiovisual Communication Services Law, is an organization that promotes, diffuses and defends the right to democratic communication in the media.

As we have previously reported, this dependency of the State has been in place since November 14 of last year when, upon the expiration of the term of Lic. Cynthia Ottaviano, the Congressional Bicameral Commission decided not to appoint a new defender / Nor to renew the mandate of the outgoing defender. To date, the agency has filed a petition for the attorney María José Guembe, Director of Protection of Rights of the Ombudsman, to be the highest authority in this transitional stage. In the same way and given that the role of Guembe does not enjoy all the faculties, the organism remains acephalous, and therefore, lacking in operability.

The institution of the Public Defender's Office is fundamental because it acts as an intermediary between the communication and public actors, representing the interests and rights of the audiences. In this way, acephaly violates citizenship and their rights can not be fully enforced without the full action of this body. This situation has already lasted for almost 3 months, but continues to work, receiving and channeling claims.

Complaints made from FUNDEPS

During 2016, from FUNDEPS, we made several complaints to the organization, highlighting those made to the TV channel TYC Sports and the program "Majul 910" by Radio AM 910.

In December of last year, we received a telephone notification about the status of the claim made by an institutional advertisement of the TV channel TyC Sports, in the month of September. In such advertising, a conversation is shown between a heterosexual couple, reproducing stereotypes of the sexual division of labor, as well as of power relations within couples. In response to this claim, the Ombudsman acknowledged and mentioned the stereotypes that reproduce the media and highlighted the positive aspects of the audiences by expressing their agreement with the constructed messages. For this complaint, a communication was made to the television channel, which was not answered. We received a formal written response in which it is mentioned that:

"In its report on the piece, the Directorate of Analysis, Investigation and Monitoring of this Ombudsman said that" it receives the comments expressed in the consultation as an indication of the legitimate disagreement of the hearings with the uncritical reiteration of stereotypical representations that, moreover, do not Correspond to the current social diversity in terms of family compositions and role assignment within families"

Due to the serious situation that the organism is undergoing, it was not possible to take other measures. In addition, in November of last year we made a complaint about the radio program "Majul 910" in Radio La Red AM 910 in which, under the supposedly "humorous" language, reproduce stereotypes and apologies to gender violence.

In this case, the Ombudsman also acknowledged the legitimacy of the complaint and reported that the company RED CELESTE Y BLANCA SA, owner of LR5 Radio La Red AM 910 responded to the complaint:

"... the comments made by comedian Claudio Rico have been made exclusively with animus iocandi and that he never had the objective of offending women or carrying forward a stereotype of beauty that is offensive and oppressive for women. Has been the goal of 'LA RED' to spread a message of media violence as stated in the presentation"

Finally, the Radio expresses: "In this sense ... we take due note of it and proceed to communicate the terms of the same to the drivers, participants and producers of the"Majul 910" Program".

Since they can not take any further measures or issue their opinions on the quality of the contents, the complaints made to the Public Defender's Office have lost strength and legitimacy and are left to the will of the denounced media.

In this context of great uncertainty, it is important to remember that, in its concluding observations to Argentina, CEDAW recommended "Amend Act No. 26.522 (2009) on audiovisual media services in order to provide the Public Defender with the power to Sanction violations of provisions to regulate gender stereotypes and sexism in the media. " Faced with this, the institutional situation of the Public Defender's Office is even more serious. The international recommendations are aimed at giving more powers to the body, which is currently limited to its functioning, a limitation that is constituted as a regressive situation that diminishes the level of protection of women against symbolic and media violence, and of audiences in general.

The reproduction of gender stereotypes in the media is a form of mediatic and symbolic violence, in accordance with the definitions of Law 26.485 of Comprehensive Protection to Prevent, Punish, and Eradicate Violence against Women, which are also contemplated in the Law 26,522 of Individual Communication Services. Agencies such as the Public Defender's Office are fundamental to ensure the production of content and programming in media that do not foster a culture of discrimination and violence. Given the gravity of the case, we again express our concern about the violation of the rights of the hearings and demand that the situation be rectified shortly.

More information

- Observations of CEDAW for the Argentine State

- Defensive Continuity Risk

- Opinion Note on Page 12: "Retrenchment in gender policies"

Contact

Carolina Tamagnini - carotamagnini@fundeps.org

Emiilia Pioletti - emiliapioletti@fundeps.org