The Argentine government announced it would dismantle and reorganize the country’s dominant media conglomerate under a recently upheld media ownership law.
The Oct. 8 announcement marks the end of a four-year judicial contest between Grupo Clarín and the government, after the Argentine Supreme Court last year upheld Argentine’s 2009 “anti-monopoly” law that limits the number of broadcast licenses that can be controlled by one company.
The law prohibits a company from owning more than a 35 percent share of the television or radio industries. Grupo Clarín owns 41 percent of Argentina’s radio stations, 38 percent of the country’s public access television channels and about 60 percent of cable television networks, according Agence France-Presse.
Grupo Clarín also owns the largest newspaper in Argentina, as well as television channels, radio stations and cable TV networks in Uruguay and Paraguay. The company was worth $1.250 million in 2011, according to Colombian newspaper El Nuevo Siglo.
In February, Grupo Clarín proposed a division of its company into six different groups of radio stations and TV channels. Although Clarín’s plan was originally approved by the Federal Authority of Audiovisual Communication Services, FAACS Director Martín Sabbatella said the proposal didn’t conform with the law because Clarín did not eliminate all corporate or personnel links between the groups.
“We have studied Grupo Clarín’s plan with our technical staff and we have concluded that there are many maneuvers that betray the freedom of information and communication,” Sabbatella said in a report by AFP. “The division of the group seemed correct at first, but problems appeared when they gave us the names of those who were going to be in charge of societies. The names intersected. There were corporate links between enterprises and that’s a fraud.
The company released a statement saying the government “was trying to appropriate their media” and argued that its ownership was changing to fall within the 2009 law.
“In order to fight against the government’s attempt to carry out an illegal and arbitrary expropriation, Clarín Group will use all the instances to safeguard its rights and the fulfillment of its plan, which adjusts strictly to the law of audiovisual communication services,” Grupo Clarín officials said in a report by the Bolivian newspaper Los Tiempos.