Argentina's new media regulator said on Wednesday that he's prepared to auction off the broadcast licences of the country's largest media monopoly.
President Cristina Fernandez has set a December 7 deadline for Grupo Clarin to show how it will comply with a law barring media monopolies.
She has appointed Martin Sabbatella to lead a new agency with a mandate to ensure that no single company controls too much of Argentina's broadcast spectrum.
Mr Sabbatella said that he has no intention of expropriating stations, but will auction off the broadcast licences of any company that owns more media properties than the law allows.
He said he will move swiftly against Clarin or any other company that doesn't present the government with a break-up plan by the deadline.
Clarin spokesman Martin Etchevers claimed that Mr Sabbatella's real objective is to "silence the few independent voices that remain in Argentina's audiovisual industry."
He alleged that 90 per cent of Argentina's radio and television stations now depend in some way on government support.
But Mr Sabbatella said the law limits corporate ownership to 35 per cent of the market to prevent private interests drowning out other voices in a democracy.
He pointed out that the media law is fostering diversity by enabling universities, indigenous communities, non-profit groups and other voices to get on the air.
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