More sad news on Argentina’s decline: President Cristina Kirchner is bringing the hammer down on media conglomerate Grupo Clarín SA. Claiming that Clarín is a media monopoly that is stifling the media landscape, Kirchner has ordered it to liquidate many of its assets by December 7. If the company refuses to comply by the deadline, the government will auction it off itself.
Kirchner is justifying her decision based on a 2009 media law intended to encourage local media production. But the law hasn’t been applied with equal force: international telecommunications companies like DirecTV have been given free reign. The WSJ reports:
At stake for Clarín is its future as an influential, independent media company that offers popular news and entertainment programs to millions of Argentines via its cable-TV and Internet services. Clarín was the only TV company to provide full coverage of recent nationwide protests against the government. Its breakup could limit the public’s access to information, analysts say.
“There are monopolies in Argentina but they’re mainly related to government media, not Clarín,” says Henoch Aguiar, a former Argentine federal communications secretary. “The government is using all its resources to demolish an enemy and control the media a bit more. That is grave.”
Kirchner has a history of abusing Argentina’s laws for political gain. Among other things, she has utilized the tax agency to investigate naysayers, and she has arrested economists for giving high inflation estimates.
This is the latest chapter in a long downward spiral for the country. Argentina is a resource-rich country with many things going for it, but corrupt, nationalist and reckless politicians have proven skillful over the years at throwing these advantages away.