Published December 19, 2012
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina – Argentina's government is using a new legal regulation to get the Supreme Court to intervene in the case of a media law opposed by the country's top media group.
Justice Minister Julio Alak said Wednesday that the government has presented a "per saltum," a mechanism that allows the highest court to step into cases even when they're being handled by lower courts.
It comes after Grupo Clarin lodged an appeal to a ruling by a lower court judge who said that a three-year-old law against media monopolies is constitutional.
"The per saltum ultimately seeks not only for the Court to force the deadlines to be met, but also to rule on the constitutionality of a law that Clarin has ignored for three years and two days," Alak said. "Grupo Clarin has blocked this law from being applied and used throughout the country."
Clarin and President Cristina Fernandez have battled for dominance for years in Argentina. Fernandez says monopolies are the greater evil. Clarin calls the bid to break it up an attempt to silence one of the government's leading critics and stifle press freedom.
The government told Clarin Monday it has begun a process to break it up and auction off its media licenses.
The 2009 law was tweaked in Congress to specifically target Clarin, the only company that runs afoul of all its major anti-monopoly clauses. The law could require Clarin to sell off broadcast licenses as well as its majority stake in Cablevision, the cable TV network that has become the company's cash cow.