Supreme Court Moves Closer to Final Ruling on Media Law

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The Supreme Court agreed unanimously today to turn to Attorney General Alejandra Gils Carbó for her judgement on the constitutionality of the 2009 media law.

Once it receives the testimony of Gils Carbó, the high court will be able to give a definitive ruling on the constitutionality of the law.

The media law, passed by the Cristina Fernández de Kirchner administration in 2009, prohibits large media conglomerates. The law allows companies no more than 24 cable licenses and 10 free-to-air licenses for radio and TV, and no more than 35% of the pay-per-view channels. Companies that exceed these limits are required to auction off media licenses.

After the law was first passed, Clarín appealed, claiming that by limiting its licenses the law violated its right to freedom of expression, and the bill have been tied up in the courts since.

Last year Judge Horacio Alfonso found the law to be constitutional and Clarín was ordered to begin breaking up its assets. However, Clarín appealed again and in April the courts sided with the media group, declaring that four articles (41, 45, 48, and 161) of the law were unconstitutional.

One of the most contested articles, number 45, sets the maximum of 35% of the market in the hands of a single operator. Because the way the application of these limitations affect the economic viability of Clarín, they argued that it was a “way of indirectly restricting freedom of expression and information.”

The case is now in the hands of the Supreme Court, which is expected to deliver a final verdict in the coming months.

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