December 5, 2013
‘It is undoubtedly a victory for democracy’
Attorney Graciana Peñafort Colombi, one of the co-authors of the Broadcast Media Law, represented the AFSCA media watchdog at the Supreme Court’s second public hearing on August 29.
In an interview with the Herald yesterday, the former AFSCA legal adviser and current Defence Ministry official highlighted the Supreme Court´s decision to declare the controversial law as constitutional a “victory for Argentine democracy”.
What is your first impression of the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Broadcast Media law?
We heard we were likely to have news this week. I had been waiting for this for a long time, so I am very happy. It was a long and arduous road to get to this point — it marks the achievement of an ambitious goal. But we want to make clear to everyone that this law does not exclusively seek to dismantle the Clarín Group — this is an anti-trust measure, and its objective is to make sure diverse voices can be heard. This measure will increase freedom of speech.
Were you surprised by the fact that this crucial ruling came just 48 hours after the midterm elections?
Not at all. For the government, any timing would have been positive, because the justices ratified the law, and for concentrated groups like the Clarín Group, the declaration of constitutionality of the Broadcast Media Law would have always come at a bad and awkward time. First, they complained of rumours that the ruling could come before the midterm elections and that a positive result could be used by the Victory Front (FpV), but that never happened. And now they complain because the ruling came after the elections. It’s all nonsense. The important thing here is that the Supreme Court has expressed itself, and Argentines have a constitutional Media Law.
Do you think the state should have to compensate Clarín Group when it revokes its corresponding licenses?
I insist that the state should not have to compensate Clarín for selling off many of its licenses. I do not know what will happen, but everybody knows what my position is on that. We will argue about this later ... we can’t forget that this is a very complex case.
What does this law mean for Argentine society?
It means that we will enjoy an open market and we will all benefit from a plurality of voices, which will be guaranteed. All advanced democracies throughout the world have modern and plural media laws. Powerful groups are against it here because it affects some interests. But we are not talking of a victory for the national government; the full implementation of this law is undoubtedly a victory for Argentine democracy.