Politics, Business & Culture in the Americas

Argentina Approves Controversial Media Law

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Over the weekend, President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner signed a government-backed bill into law that restricts the number of media outlets companies can own in a single market. The law also requires 70 percent of radio and 60 percent of television content to be produced in Argentina.  It further directs cable television companies to carry channels operated by nongovernmental organizations, universities and indigenous groups and calls for select companies to sell some of their media assets within a year. 

The bill passed the Senate by a 44-24 margin on Saturday after nearly 20 hours of debate.   Argentina’s lower house had passed the bill on September 17 after opposition lawmakers walked out in protest. 

Critics say the law will give the government too much control over the press.  The Vienna-based International Press Institute said the law will damage press freedom in Argentina and is specifically concerned about the power the government now has to grant licenses to radio and television stations. On Sunday, the country’s largest media company, Grupo Clarin, said it plans to challenge the law in court.  Clarin’s media outlets are widely considered to be critical of the president, who in campaigning for the bill said Clarin held 73 percent of Argentina’s cable, telephone and cable licenses

Supporters, on the other hand, celebrated the reversal of a dictatorship-era (1976–1983) law that allowed for media monopolies.

Tags: Argentina, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, Media Law
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