Argentine media say govt taking away advertising

Argentina's newspapers say supermarket and appliance companies have been told to stop advertising during a price freeze the government imposed to stem inflation.

The government denies this: Consumer protection official Maria Colombo calls it "an invention" of the daily newspaper Clarin.

But Clarin spokesman Martin Etchevers says advertisers told both Clarin and La Nacion they're dropping the ads under pressure from Commerce Secretary Guillermo Moreno.

A trade group representing Argentina's supermarkets did not respond to Associated Press questions on Friday.

Consumer ads bring important income to newspapers that don't enjoy government subsidies or official advertising. Argentina's auditor-general criticized the government this week for spending $460 million on official advertising from 2007-2010, and giving most of it to only five of the country's 300-plus media companies, without considering their audience size.