Grupo Clarín, the publisher of Argentina’s most widely read daily newspaper and the largest media conglomerate in the country, once enjoyed a favourable relationship with the government. Now, the two are engaged in a public tussle in which each side claims that the other poses a threat to freedom of expression: the administration of President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner accuses Clarín of having a monopolistic stranglehold over the country’s media, and the news conglomerate charges the government with striving to stifle dissenting voices.
The conflict’s focal point is the controversial “Media Law,” also known as the Audiovisual Communication Services Act (No 26.522), passed by Argentina’s Congress in October 2009. Article 45 of this law limits the number of broadcasting licenses that any media organisation can hold, and Article 161 establishes a procedure to divest incompliant companies of their holdings. Proponents call it a move to increase media plurality; detractors consider the measure a government ploy to dismantle its most vocal critic.