Temporary relief for Clarin Group; case delayed for another two months
Argentine media group Clarin SA was granted temporary relief on Tuesday from the government's effort to implement a media law that would force the conglomerate to sell some of its most profitable assets.
Earlier Tuesday, it was announced that Federal Judge Horacio Alfonso accepted Clarin's request to appeal a ruling he made Friday that required the company to immediately comply with the law.
In his ruling, Judge Alfonso had also ordered an immediate end to an injunction protecting Clarin from the law's enforcement until courts have decided whether the law is constitutional. But by granting Clarin's appeal and sending the case to an appeals court, Judge Alfonso effectively suspended his own ruling, once again shielding Clarin from the law.
The development comes a day after Martin Sabbatella, head of a government media regulatory agency, notified Clarin that the government had begun the process of auctioning off some of Clarin's assets such as its cable-TV unit. Mr. Sabbatella said the process would last around 100 business days.
Legal experts say the appellate ruling may not come until February or March. Even then, the case will likely be appealed again by the losing side to the Supreme Court.
Only after the Supreme Court has ruled on the law's constitutionality will it be clear if and when Clarin has to comply with the law.
The dispute is part of an escalating battle between Clarin and Argentine President Cristina Fernandez who is trying to enforce a controversial three-year-old media law.
Cristina Fernandez says the law aims to create more competition in the media marketplace. In contrast, Clarin and many analysts say the government wants to muzzle the outspoken broadcaster and diminish the influence of critical press, which it claims wants to see her removed from office.