May 25, 2013
Debate rages as December 7 ‘D-Day’ approaches
The rapidly approaching implementation of the Media Law, set to be launched when an injunction on Article 161 expires on December 7, continued to be a source of debate yesterday.
Senator María Eugenia Estenssoro (Civic Coalition - Broad Progressive Front) yesterday described the Media Law as “a ferocious assault on the few independent media groups that exist in Argentina” by the national government.
According to the senator, “in all these years there has not been an assault as ferocious and as unlimited against national judges, judges in the Magistrates Council and against the Supreme Court.”
Estenssoro added that “the government and the AFSCA (audiovisual communications regulatory board) are the main violators of the Media Law, as the Federal Authority has not met the timelines for dictating the technical norms.”
“If we continue to degrade the information that reaches citizens and degrade justice, our quality of life will deteriorate,” said the senator.
AFSCA TO TENDER EXCESS LICENCES
AFSCA chief Martín Sabbatella confirmed yesterday that if certain audiovisual media groups did not present an adjustment plan before December 7, when the Media Law is apparently expected to come into effect, then the organization will “tender” those licences “that have exceeded legal stipulations.”
“If a company has 15 licences and the Law only allows it to have 10, and the same company does not produce a plan to adjust to the Law, AFSCA will make the remaining five available after December 7,” said Sabbatella yesterday.
The focus of his comments was widely interpreted to be the Clarín Group, which hopes that its claim on the alleged inconstitutionality of Article 161 of the Media Law is dealt with by the court, although the claim is currently under an injuction that will expire on December 7 if the court does not agree to an extension.
“What is strange is that there are those who say that the Law does not apply to them, does not affect them. This is a challenge to democracy and the rule of law,” said Sabbatella in a radio interview yesterday.
“The law sets a limit to ensure that there are no giants that prevent the growth of others, to ensure that there are no dominant positions, so that everybody may be big enough to co- exist with other companies,” said the AFSCA director.
Héctor Magnetto, the head of the Clarín Group, yesterday made rare comments in public about the conflict with the national government over the Media Law.
Magnetto, speaking at a gathering of the international broadcasting association AIR in Montevideo, said the administration of President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner is pressuring the judicial branch over the Media Law. He also compared Argentina to Venezuela.
“Unfortunately, (Argentina) is in a process similar to that of Venezuela although we have not reached their level,” Magnetto said. “I am optimistic because society is starting to react and I think it has reserves to sustain this battle for a long time,” he added.
Speaking yesterday, Supreme Court Justice Raúl Zaffaroni referred to the state of media groups in Argentina, calling for society to “analyze what is being constructs, to see how we are being manipulated and how fears are being injected through artificial constructions.”
The justice also stated that “groups always try to create a threatening reality, a chaotic reality, selecting data from reality that make us live in a terrible world, conforming to the fears that are being generated.”
— Herald with DyN, Telam