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7D: Argentina Prepares for New Media Law

Argentina appears to have formed a habit with regards to labelling important announcements with the date and first letter of the month; it happened with 8N alluding to November 8, 2012, and now 7D has come about with regards to December 7, the day in which the new Law on Audiovisual Communication Services (LSCA) goes into full effect.

As the blog Venas Abiertas Americanas [es] (American Open Veins) explains,

El 7 de diciembre los medios de comunicación audiovisuales deben comenzar a cumplir con la nueva Ley de Medios Audiovisuales, aprobada este año por el Congreso y que suplanta a la vieja ley promulgada durante la última dictadura militar en el país (1976 a 1983).

On December 7 all audiovisual media must begin to comply with the new Audiovisual Media Law, approved this year by Congress and which replaces the old law enacted during the last military dictatorship in the country (1976-1983).

But what does this law regulate? News site Telam [es] responds with a series of frequently asked questions:

¿Qué regula la Ley? El objeto de la LSCA es la regulación de los servicios de comunicación audiovisual en todo el ámbito territorial de la República Argentina así como el desarrollo de mecanismos destinados a la promoción, desconcentración y fomento de la competencia con fines de abaratamiento, democratización y universalización del aprovechamiento de las nuevas tecnologías de la información y la comunicación.

What does the law regulate? The objective of the LSCA is to regulate audiovisual communication services throughout the territory of the Republic of Argentina, as well as to develop mechanisms destined for the promotion, decentralisation, and encouragement of competition with the aim of reducing costs, democratising, and spreading the use of new technologies of information and communication.

The same page explains [es] the number of licences that each media group can have:

¿Cuantas medios audiovisuales puede tener un grupo? Para garantizar la pluralidad de voces, la diversidad de contenidos y el respeto por lo local, la LSCA establece en su artículo 45º limitaciones a la concentración de licencias. Así, a nivel nacional, una persona puede ser titular de 24 sistemas televisión por cable, 10 licencias de radiodifusión -sean de radio FM, AM o de televisión abierta- y una señal de contenidos (canal de cable). Mientras que a nivel local, una persona puede ser titular de una licencia de radio AM, una FM y una de radiodifusión televisiva.

How many audiovisual media can a [media] group have? In order to guarantee the plurality of voices, the diversity of content and the respect for the local, the LSCA establishes in article 45 the limitations in the concentration of licences. In this way, at a national level, a person can be a holder of 24 cable television systems, 10 licences for broadcasting- be it FM or AM radio or open television- and one contents signal (cable channel). While at a local level, a person can be a holder of one AM, one FM radio licence, and one broadcasting television licence.

The Media Group most affected by this adaptation to the law is Clarín Group [es], which brought an injunction which temporarily suspended Article 161 of the new Media Law. La Nación [es] explains:

El artículo 161 dispuso que quienes tengan mayor cantidad de licencias que las permitidas por la nueva ley debían regularizarse un año después que el Afsca [Autoridad Federal de Servicios de Comunicación Audiovisual] estableciera los mecanismos de transición. Vencido dicho plazo se les aplicarían las sanciones correspondientes, que incluyen la caducidad de la licencia así como el desapoderamiento de la infraestructura necesaria para la emisión y su adjudicación a otro licenciatario.

Article 161 has stipulated that those who have more licences than that allowed by the new law will have to be regulated a year later, after the Afsca [Federal Authority of Audiovisual Communication Services] establishes transition mechanisms. After this deadline, appropriate sanctions will be applied, which include licence revocation as well as the necessary divestment of emission infrastructure and allotment to another licensee.

The suspension of the article expires on December 7, marking 7D as the deadline for the regulation of media licences according to the new law.

Clarín voices its complaints [es]:

Planteó la inconstitucionalidad de varios artículos de la ley de medios, como el impedimento que un licenciatario de TV abierta pueda tener una licencia de TV por cable en una misma ciudad, la restricción a la producción de señales de cable, que los canales abiertos solo puedan producir una señal audiovisual y que los cables solo puedan tener una señal de generación propia. También cuestionó la restricción a 24 licencias de TV por cable y las 10 de radio y TV abierta, así como la reducción al 35% de participación y cobertura en los diferentes segmentos del mercado nacional.

[Clarín] raised the unconstitutionality of various articles in the Media Law, such as the obstacle that an open-TV licence holder can have a cable TV licence in the same city, the restriction to the production of cable signals, that open channels can only produce one audiovisual signal and that cable channels can only have one signal that is generated by themselves. [Clarín] also questions the restriction to 24 cable TV licences, 10 for radio and 10 for open-TV, as well as the reduction to 35% participation and coverage in the different segments of the national market.

A video titled “The Media Law is not Unconstitutional” from the Casa Rosada ‘s [es] YouTube channel responds to the Clarín Group, emphasizing that the law is constitutional:

In turn, the Clarín Group, through its YouTube channel [es], broadcasts its response, noting that the reader, viewer, cable-TV user, radio listener or Internet user have options for choosing other media outlets:

Many bloggers have reflected on 7D. Daniel Satur and Martín Espinoza, from the blog El diablo se llama Trotsky [es] (The devil is called Trotsky), write:

Plantear hoy la cuestión en términos de “o se está con Clarín o se está con el Gobierno” es caer en una trampa. Si colocarse del lado de Clarín es defender un esquema mediático monopólico y reaccionario, entusiasmarse con una hipotética intervención estatal o con una redistribución k sobre los medios es depositar expectativas en el garante último de la más absoluta falta de libertad de expresión: el Estado capitalista.

To consider the matter in terms of “you are either with Clarín or you are with the Government” is to fall into a trap. If you put yourself at the side of Clarín, you are defending a media scheme that is monopolistic and reactionary; if you get excited about a hypothetical state intervention or about a media redistribution, you are depositing your expectations in the final guarantee of the absolute lack of freedom of expression: the capitalist State.

In turn, Facundo Landivar from the blog También soy argentino [es] (I am also Argentinian), considers 7D to be utter nonsense on both parts; that of the Argentinian leaders and that of Clarín.

Pero se sigue con este tema de ambos lados lo cual resulta una total mentira, yo no me creo que lo mas importante que esta pasando hace ya un tiempo en Argentina es la aplicación de la ley de medios.

This two-sided matter just goes on and only results in yet more lies. I don't believe that the implementation of this Media Law is the most important thing to be going on for quite some time in Argentina.

Meanwhile, Argentinians await December 7 and on Twitter Cecilia Greaves (@CeciGreaves) [es] writes:

@CeciGreaves: Ya empezó el mes del 7D, de los mayas, del fin del mundo, de la tormenta solar, del calor, de las compras navideñas.. ‘Or dió, que mes!

@CeciGreaves: And so begins the month of 7D, the Mayas, the end of the world, solar and heat storms, Christmas shopping… Good God, what a month!

Photo via Shutterstock, Copyright: IvicaNS

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