Argentina’s government began the process of breaking up Grupo Clarín, the country’s largest media conglomerate on Monday. The anti-media monopoly law being used against Grupo Clarín was found constitutional by a lower court on Friday and would require the media group to sell off broadcast licenses as well as its majority stake in Cablevision, the cable TV network that has become the company’s top revenue driver. Clarín said it would appeal the decision.
President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner has led the campaign against Grupo Clarín, accusing the group of coup mongering and reporting news biased against her government. But critics claim that by dismantling one of the country’s few remaining independent media groups that doesn’t rely on state advertising revenue, the government is limiting free speech in Argentina. Martin Sabbatella, the head of the government media regulation body, denied the accusation on Monday, saying free speech isn’t at risk.
The government has been at odds with the media group since Clarín criticized President Fernández’s handling of a tax on the key agricultural industry and a massive farmers strike in 2008. The case may eventually go before Argentina’s Supreme Court.