- Title: ARGENTINA: Government notifies media group it must dismantle assets
- Date: 17th December 2012
- Summary: BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA (RECENT) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF THE EXTERIOR OF THE COURTHOUSE
- Embargoed: 1st January 2013 12:00
- Location: Argentina
- Country: Argentina
- Topics: Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA22EOJ6QQESNICCF0EBLO7IMWA
- Story Text: Argentina's government on Monday (December 17) told the country's largest media conglomerate, Grupo Clarin, that a controversial media law was going into effect which would force it to dismantle part of its broadcasting empire. l The head of Argentina's Afsca Federal Audiovisual Communications Authority, Martin Sabbatella, went to the media group's offices in Buenos Aires on Monday to present the ruling and to advise the next steps in implementing the law.
"The first step is this notification. After that comes the appraisal process. After the appraisals, the selection of licenses, the affected assets, the use thereof to contest it. Then the contesting, the allocation and then the transfer from the previous owner to the new owner," Sabbatella said.
The country's biggest media group has resisted pressure from President Cristina Fernandez to comply with an anti-monopoly broadcast law that would force it to sell off dozens of operating licenses - or have them auctioned by the state.
On Friday (December 14), Judge Horacio Alfonso denied claims by Clarin that parts of the law which limits the number of radio and television licenses a company can operate as unconstitutional.
The federal judge upheld the articles of the law and ordered that any judicial stays halting their implementation should be lifted immediately.
The ruling gives Clarin 100 business days from the time of notification to transfer control of the assets.
Grupo Clarin disputed that, saying a higher court must review Alfonso's orders before they can go into effect.
Clarin appealed the decision on Monday morning and one of the group's lawyers, Damian Cassino, said the dismantling of the company should remain frozen until a "firm" decision is reached in the case which could work its way up to the Supreme Court.
"This shows the illegality of their actions. In the absence of a firm judgement, all their actions cannot be based on a judgement that, simply put, is not firm. Imagine that, hypothetically, they go ahead and start to auction off all the goods, to strip Grupo Clarin of its businesses. Then imagine the judgement is reversed in the House, then how will we remedy the situation?" Cassino said.
The media group controls the main cable television provider in the country, the leading newspaper, some of the most widely listed to radio stations and two of the most watched broadcast television stations, one of which is a news station.
Critics have accused the centre-left government of trying to stifle dissent. Backers of the 2009 law say it aims to do the opposite by diversifying the airwaves.
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
- Copyright Notice: (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2013. Open For Restrictions - http://about.reuters.com/fulllegal.asp
- Usage Terms/Restrictions: None