Access to Public Information, Content Regulation / Censorship, Licensing / Media Regulation
Esquivel v. Costa Rican Electricity Institute
Closed Expands Expression
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Editorial Perfil S.A. and Diario Perfil S.A., two Argentine media companies, brought this case against Argentina in order to halt its discretionary distribution process for state advertising. The case was decided in favor of the two companies, and Argentina was required to utilize an equal and balanced method of distribution for state advertising, thereby preventing the further denigration of the right to freedom of expression through discrimination, indirect censorship, and limitations on media diversity.
Publishing company, Editorial Perfil S.A., and newspaper, Diario Perfil S.A., brought a case against the state of Argentina on the ground that the government had arbitrarily discriminated against their publications by not granting them state advertisement, thus strangling them economically and, indirectly, restricting the right to freedom of expression of the independent media.
The government asserted that the distribution of state advertisement was decided by discretionary, albeit reasonable, criteria. The government further argued that the allocation of grants for state advertising was a matter for the executive branch and that the government could not be held responsible for the finance of private companies.
The Supreme Court of Argentina affirmed the sentence of the appellate tribunal, which followed the Court’s jurisprudence in Editorial Rio Negro S.A., and ordered the state to provide an equal and balanced distribution of state advertisement. The Court held it was the government’s burden to prove the reasonableness of its distribution mechanism and found that it had failed to do so in the present case.
The Justices reasoned that the current method of distribution allowed for a form of indirect censorship against those members of the press that were not supporters of the government. The Court argued that the fact that the companies did not solely depend upon the government’s economic aid did not modify its decision, as financial independence only benefited freedom of expression. Therefore, the Court held that economic affliction should not only be measured by the money the companies did not receive as a result of not being selected, but also by the loss of readers that the lack of information provided by the publisher would result in.
Decision Direction indicates whether the decision expands or contracts expression based on an analysis of the case.
This decision of the Supreme Court of Argentina is consistent with its earlier holding in Editorial Rio Negro S.A. and further curtails the Argentine state’s ability to limit media diversity and effectuate indirect censorship.
Global Perspective demonstrates how the court’s decision was influenced by standards from one or many regions.
Case significance refers to how influential the case is and how its significance changes over time.
The Supreme Court of Argentina decides cases on an individual basis, and its case law does not create binding precedents. However, the Court is the ultimate interpreter of the Constitution, and, as such, its decisions are highly persuasive.
Let us know if you notice errors or if the case analysis needs revision.