March 7, 2014
AFSCA tackles Clarín, Pierri plans on Monday; Telefónica, Vila a week later
By Sebastián Lacunza
The AFSCA media watchdog will tackle next February 17 and 24 the adjustment plans submitted by the main players in media market, according to the requirements set up by the 2009 Media Law.
The proposals by the Clarín Group and cable company Telecentro will be the first to be discussed and both are likely to be approved. The Telefónica/Telefe, Spanish Prisa Group and Vila-Manzano holdings will be adressed a week later.
The head of AFSCA Martín Sabbatella told the Herald in Jaunuary that the Clarín plan complies “on its face” with the 2009 law. And considering its cable unit Cablevisión has partially fulfilled requirements to adjust its grid layout as ordered by AFSCA, there is little room for doubt that its plan is likely to be approved. However, it seems clear the key discusion will be centred on who will become the owner of each one of the six units the company is seeking to divide itself into.
Meanwhile, the plan presented by Telecentro — the cable group owned by right-wing Peronist leader Alberto Pierri and second player in cable market in Buenos Aires — is expected to be approved as well, although with a few “objections” regarding the way the company is using its licences to reach most of the Greater Buenos Aires area. These observations would limit the expansion of Telecentro in the cable market.
A week later, all eyes will be on Telefónica and its main TV channel Telefe. The Herald also revealed weeks ago that the Spanish company has failed to convince AFSCA regarding the incompatibility between running a public utility and be a media licencee at the same time. Telefónica’s argument is that the actual owner of Telefe is the Spanish company based in Madrid and it has no links with the Argentine subsidiary, a leader in the landline and mobile telephone market.
Such an argument has been strongly criticized by AFSCA lawyers. “The situation didn’t change,” a source from AFSCA said last night. Prisa, which controls Radio Continental in Buenos Aires and other stations in the provincies, will not face any problems, while Vila-Manzano (Radio La Red, Supercanal cable, América TV, América 24 news channel) has already received objections from AFSCA.