December 13, 2013
Sabbatella declares Clarín employees jobs safe
After the Supreme Court of Justice on Tuesday declared constitutional the Media Law contested by Grupo Clarín, the AFSCA broadcasting watchdog head Martín Sabbatella and Labour Minister Carlos Tomada yesterday met with the company’s employee representatives to discuss the preservation of their jobs in the audiovisual sector.
For its part Clarín — which has been accused by President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner of seeking to destabilize her — warned that it will continue to press its case in the courts, alleging that the government’s real aim is to “take over” its editorial line and that the anti-monopoly law is simply “a confiscation.”
Separately, The Washington Post said in an editorial: “Argentina’s president poses a threat to the country’s institutions... The United States, Brazil and Mexico should be asking whether a nation in the Western Hemisphere that stifles freedom of expression deserves to have its voice amplified through invitations to elite summit meetings. The obvious answer is no.”
On Friday, a number of cultural personalities gathered and signed a document in a show of support for the full enforcement of the anti-monopoly law, among them, León Gieco, Alfredo Alcón, Arnaldo André, Peteco Carabajal, Natalia Oreiro, María Onetto, Fito Páez, Mercedes Morán, Pablo Echarri, Nancy Dupláa, Darío Grandinetti, La Bersuit and Florencia Peña. “What we are defending is not just a law regulating the audiovisual sector... but the future of all Argentines,” actress Ana Celentano told Página/12 newspaper.
SABBATELLA REASSURES CLARÍN EMPLOYEES
Sabbatella and Tomada met at the AFSCA headquarters with members of Clarín-owned Canal 13 and TN in the UTPBA press workers union, and the SAT Argentine television workers’ union headed by its secretary general Horacio Arreceygor. The officials and union leaders agreed to work together with all audiovisual unions “to ensure the preservation of the jobs of all employees,” AFSCA said in a statement.
“It was the first meeting after the Supreme Court ruling, to reassure the employees of the Clarín Group.... With Minister Tomada we will also meet with the rest of the companies connected to the voluntary acceptance (of the law) that must be carried out by all media groups, both those which have presented plans and those which have not,” Sabbatella said. “The defence of all communication sector employees is one of the leading mandates the president gave us when she appointed us to led this agency.” For his part, Tomada said: “The defence of jobs is in the DNA of this administration.”
Sabbatella said that the president has ordered an “egalitarian” enforcement of the law, but Clarín’s lawyer Damián Cassino said that the government is “making a selective application of the law... it is clear that what (AFSCA) is trying to do is to take over some media and change editorial lines. It has already ordered the valuation of the group’s media, although it has not yet defined which ones it wants.”
Clarín is considering a range of actions to be adopted and “will obviously question this de facto decision, Cassino said, referring to the divestment imposed by the government, as opposed to a “voluntary” option. “They are not just going after the licenses. They are even going after the vans. This is an attempt to seize assets. A confiscation.”
WASHINGTON POST EDITORIAL
The Washington Post editorial said: “Argentines hoping to preserve their 30-year-old democracy had reason to cheer this week when midterm congressional elections resulted in a decisive defeat for President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. The president’s party lost in 12 of 23 provinces, including the capital and Buenos Aires province, which contain more than a third of the population. The vote virtually ensured that Ms. Fernández, who is in uncertain health following brain surgery, will not be able to change the constitution and run for a third term in 2015, and it gave a boost to a couple of moderate rivals who oppose her authoritarian populism.”
“Sadly, however, Ms. Fernández and her cronies still pose a threat to the country’s democratic institutions. That became clear Tuesday, when the Argentine Supreme Court, under heavy pressure from the president’s office, upheld a law aimed at destroying one of South America’s most important media firms, Grupo Clarín. The company operates one of Argentina’s biggest newspapers, called Clarín, which has been one of the few media outlets to challenge Ms. Fernández’s policies.”
Herald staff with DyN