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ARGENTINA
New media law passes
10/16/2009
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President Fernández signs law to limit reach of media conglomerates.

President Cristina Fernández Kirchner on Oct. 11 signed into law new legislation on media, which passed following heated debates in Congress, and seeks to block media monopolies.

The new law, which replaces legislation issued in 1980, during the 1976-83 dictatorship, limits the number of media outlets from 24 to 10 that a single company can control. Opponents to the law say it will increase state control over the media.

It also prohibits the owners of television cable company operators from running broadcast television states, and caps foreign investment in local media to 30 percent.

The legislation also divides the television and radio spectrum in three parts: the private sector, public sector and nonprofits, including unions, universities, organizations and religious institutions.

Critics complain that Fernández´s goal was to dismantle the powerful Grupo Clarín, Argentina´s largest media conglomerate, which has openly been at odds with the president and her husband, former President Néstor Kirchner (2003-2007). Grupo Clarín owns the country´s largest newspaper and top television station, as well as cable channels, Internet service and other media outlets.

Opposition Sen. Carlos Reutemann warned that the law will only spark lawsuits, as is the case with Grupo Clarín, whose licenses were renewed for 10 years in 2007, under Kirchner´s government. According to the new law, however, such licenses will not be automatically carried over.

Civil society organizations that comprise the Coalition of Democratic Broadcasting had been demanding the law for years.

The World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters Latin America and the Caribbean applauded the new law in a statement, saying it will help stem the concentration of big media companies and guarantee “diversity and pluralism.”
—Latinamerica Press.


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