Argentine show makes serious fun of politics

Thu Jun 18, 2009 8:22pm EDT
 
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By Fiona Ortiz

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters Life!) - Marcelo Tinelli, the host of Argentina's top-rated television show, says he's just having some fun with his new political satire, but he could influence a close congressional race on June 28.

Last year, Tinelli ran a racy pole-dancing contest that sent ratings for his "Showmatch" variety show through the ceiling.

Now, he has shifted gears and put political leaders on the defensive with "Big Brother-in-Law," a parody featuring impersonations of prominent politicians.

The show lampoons President Cristina Fernandez, her husband Nestor Kirchner who preceded her in office and is now running for Congress, Kirchner's main opponent Francisco de Narvaez, and others.

Media critics and analysts say the show could shape the outcome of the tight race between Kirchner and De Narvaez in the key province Buenos Aires, home to more than a third of Argentines, although it is unclear in which direction.

If the opposition does well in the mid-term it will try to put the brakes on Fernandez's policies of increasing state intervention in businesses and financial markets.

"Without a doubt, Tinelli is a high priest of opinion. His comments on the candidates are very important, they influence opinion, especially the undecided voters, and there are lots of them," said Fernando Ruiz, a specialist on journalism and democracy at the Austral University in Buenos Aires.

MILLIONS OF VIEWERS   Continued...