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Argentine Senate Overwhelmingly Approves Media Law


Argentine Senate overwhelmingly approves media law
Argentine Senate approves law dismantling media monopolies, president to sign
by Mayra Pertossi, Associated Press Writer | Google News

Argentina's Senate overwhelmingly approved a law that will transform the nation's media landscape on Saturday, and President Cristina Fernandez quickly signed it into law.

Senators voted by a surprisingly high 44-24 margin for the law, celebrating the end of dictatorship-era rules that enabled a few companies to dominate Argentine media. Opponents say it instead gives the government too much power and will curtail freedom of speech.

The new law preserves two-thirds of the radio and TV spectrum for noncommercial stations, and requires channels to use more Argentine content. It also forces Grupo Clarin, the country's leading media company, to sell off many of its properties.

"The initiative is moderate and democratic," said Sen. Miguel Angel Pichetto, a ruling party leader, during nearly 20 hours of uninterrupted debate that ended Saturday morning. "It allows for companies to have an adequate position, but not a dominant one."

Opponents say the new law simply replaces a media oligopoly with a state monopoly — and will enable investors with close ties to the president and her husband, former president Nestor Kirchner, to snap up media properties at low prices in forced sales.

Outside Congress, thousands of supporters celebrated in the plaza with chants, applause, fireworks and booming drums. The demonstration was organized by government supporters and included political activist Maximo Kirchner, son of the first couple.

Ruling party Sen. Liliana Fellner said the law does away with a vestige of Argentina's 1976-83 military dictatorship.

"We are settling an old debt with democracy," she said. Read more.

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