Posts Tagged ‘Clarin’

Argentina: The end for Clarín

Wednesday, October 30th, 2013

Grupo Clarín, known for its criticism of kirchnerismo and Cristina Fernandez, will likely have to sell its profitable cable-TV and Internet businesses:
Argentine Court Clears Media Breakup
Argentina’s Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld a law that could allow the government to dismantle Grupo Clarin SA, the country’s largest media company.

The decision caps a four-year battle against Clarín by Mrs. Kirchner, who has made dismantling the media giant a top priority of her administration. Relations between both sides began to fray shortly after she took office in 2007. The newspaper was critical of her handling of a farmers strike in 2008.

The following year, she stripped Clarín of lucrative soccer-broadcasting rights and later seized control of a newsprint maker in which Clarín is a shareholder. Her administration also filed criminal charges against executives from Clarín and competing newspaper La Nación, accusing them of colluding with Argentina’s 1976-83 dictatorship to obtain control of the newsprint company. Clarín and La Nación denied the allegations and called them an effort to silence critical voices.

In one particularly bitter episode, Mrs. Kirchner’s government and human-rights groups teamed up against Clarín’s owner, Ernestina Herrera de Noble, and accused her of adopting children who may have been stolen during the 1970s dictatorship. DNA tests later confirmed that the children, Marcela and Felipe, couldn’t be tied to a database of people that had been “disappeared” during the dictatorship. The government never apologized.

This year, Mrs. Kirchner compared the media to military coup-mongers, saying journalists fire “ink bullets” in their bid to overthrow governments and pursue their own vested special interests. Some of her government’s top officials stormed Clarín’s annual shareholder meeting in April to heckle company officials. Mrs. Kirchner once acknowledged using the federal tax agency to investigate a critic of hers that had been quoted in Clarín.

“It’s a blood vendetta,” said Riordan Roett, professor of Latin American politics at Johns Hopkins University. “Both Kirchners, dead or alive, were and are very thin-skinned.”

Mrs. Kirchner’s husband and predecessor, Néstor Kirchner, died in 2010.

The decision could mark a turning point in freedom of expression in Argentina. Clarín has long said that income from cable and Internet businesses allows it to maintain its editorial independence by giving it the financial security to withstand the loss of advertising from hard-hitting articles against business or government leaders.

Interestingly, the Court made its decision after Sunday’s election:

 The legal victory for the government comes only two days afterPresident Fernández’s administration took a beating in Sunday’s mid-term legislative elections, raising the spectre of a “lame duck” presidency for the ailing Fernández until the next presidential elections in 2015.

Supreme Court judge Eugenio Zaffaroni claims it was “so it wouldn’t look like they were trying to influence the outcome.”

Zaffaroni also stated that the law will be carried out (i.e., Clarín will have to sell its cable-TV and Internet businesses) regardless of whether the company appeals.


Argentina: Broadcast licenses, cable TV and fiber-optic Internet networks to be auctioned off

Thursday, November 15th, 2012

Cristina Fernandez’s government is auctioning off the broadcast licenses and the cable TV and fiber-optic Internet networks currently owned by Grupo Clarín SA and Unos Medios:
Argentina Plans to Auction Seized Media Assets

The country’s top court looks likely to rule on the constitutionality of the law, which opponents say not only violates constitutionally protected private-property rights, but threatens free speech as well.

The auction plans were confirmed Wednesday by Martin Sabbatella, who heads the federal agency created to enforce the law which critics say targets top media conglomerate Grupo Clarín SA and its most profitable business unit, Cablevisión.

Later Wednesday, Congress passed a law that allows the government to bypass federal appeals courts and take its case against directly to the Supreme Court.

The companies have until Dec. 7 to present plans to sell off all broadcast licenses and related assets that exceed a quota established by the media law. If they don’t, the government will begin the process of auctioning off the assets after the deadline, Mr. Sabbatella said at a news conference.

Another media group, Uno Medios, which also provides cable TV and Internet services around the country, will be similarly forced to sell its broadcast licenses, cable TV and Internet infrastructure or see them forcibly auctioned off.

Spokesmen for Grupo Clarín and Uno Medios weren’t immediately available for comment.

Mr. Sabbatella had previously said the government would force companies to sell licenses that didn’t comply with requirements of the media law, but it wasn’t clear they would also have to sell related infrastructure assets.

Mr. Sabbatella said a federal tribunal will establish the value of those assets and that value will be used to determine the initial auction price for the assets, proceeds from which would go back to the companies, not the government.

The deadline stems from an injunction that Grupo Clarín was granted against the enforcement of the media law. The injunction expires Dec. 7. Lawyers had said Clarín could seek an extension of the injunction or appeal any government attempt to take over or auction off its assets.

Clarin argues the media law violates constitutionally protected private-property rights, which the government denies.

Clarín, the country’s largest-circulation daily, has been criticizing both Cristina and her late husband, Nestor Kirchner, for years (Clarín‘s stock actually stock went up by 50% the day after Kirchner’s death). They have stated that

“This government can’t handle the existence of independent entities that can have an influence in society,” Clarin editor Ricardo Kirschbaum said. “It seems to me that the government simply wants to have political control over the media. … and I think that what’ they’re trying to achieve is the beginning of a process that enables them to hold onto power indefinitely.”

The auction would take place once the injunction expires.

The taxman commeth

Friday, July 20th, 2012

Sicking the taxman on your political opponents is becoming quite the vogue in our hemisphere:

The Taxman Cometh

If you want to publicly criticize Argentina’s government, make sure all your tax filings are in order.

That was the thinly veiled message President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner sent Wednesday near the end of a speech broadcast on all national television and radio stations. Reiterating her standard criticism that media “operations” are depressing Argentinians with gloom-and-doom stories, she derided an article published last Sunday. (She didn’t say this, but the paper that ran it was Clarín, the country’s largest-circulation daily.) In the story, the owner of a real-estate agency, one of its directors and an employee were quoted complaining that recent government measures essentially blocking the sale of foreign currency to citizens had paralyzed their business.

Kirchner then dropped this bit of information: the firm in question hasn’t filed taxes since 2007 and neither has the director quoted in the story, whom she named.

How did she know? She had called up the head of the tax agency to ask, and this, too, she openly revealed on Wednesday’s broadcast.

…Kirchner’s statement on Wednesday was different: by saying that she had called the taxman out of supposed concern for the real-estate agency, she unabashedly established cause and effect: you criticize me; I punish you. Was there a better way for her to flex muscle than signal that Argentina’s government agencies are at her beck and call and say so with no shame?

Not cause-and-effect, but coincidental,
Strassel: Obama’s Enemies List—Part II
First an Obama campaign website called out Romney donor Frank Vandersloot. Next the IRS moved to audit him—and so did the Labor Department.

Mr. VanderSloot has since been learning what it means to be on a presidential enemies list. Just 12 days after the attack, the Idahoan found an investigator digging to unearth his divorce records. This bloodhound—a recent employee of Senate Democrats—worked for a for-hire opposition research firm.

Now Mr. VanderSloot has been targeted by the federal government. In a letter dated June 21, he was informed that his tax records had been “selected for examination” by the Internal Revenue Service. The audit also encompasses Mr. VanderSloot’s wife, and not one, but two years of past filings (2008 and 2009).

Mr. VanderSloot, who is 63 and has been working since his teens, says neither he nor his accountants recall his being subject to a federal tax audit before. He was once required to send documents on a line item inquiry into his charitable donations, which resulted in no changes to his taxes. But nothing more—that is until now, shortly after he wrote a big check to a Romney-supporting Super PAC.

Two weeks after receiving the IRS letter, Mr. VanderSloot received another—this one from the Department of Labor. He was informed it would be doing an audit of workers he employs on his Idaho-based cattle ranch under the federal visa program for temporary agriculture workers.

Perhaps all this is coincidence. Perhaps something in Mr. VanderSloot’s finances or on his ranch raised a flag. Americans want to believe the federal government performs its duties without fear or favor.

Only in this case, Americans can have no such confidence. Did Mr. Obama pick up the phone and order the screws put to Mr. VanderSloot? Or—more likely—did a pro-Obama appointee or political hire or career staffer see that the boss had an issue with this donor, and decide to do the president an unasked-for election favor? Or did he or she simply think this was a duty, given that the president had declared Mr. VanderSloot and fellow donors “less than reputable”?

As a commenter in the latter article put it,

Here is the problem. Despite living an exemplary life and keeping all of your affairs in order and legal to the best of your abilities, because the laws are so outrageously complex and of such breadth and volume that it is impossible to know them and thus adhere to them, everyone who has any arrangement beyond the most simple can likely be found, upon thorough investigation, to be in violation of something. For this reason, getting audited can be problematic, despite honest attempts to stay compliant. Thus, people rightly fear being singled out and becoming an audit target.

Criticisms of “what have you to hide?” are a simpleton’s response to such fears. Nowadays, managing a business or any enterprise is fraught with big and little gotchas in every conceivable corner.

Not a good trend.

Not good at all.

Cross-posted in The Green Room.


Argentina: Today’s headlines from Clarin

Sunday, October 31st, 2010

I’m truly enjoying my trip to Buenos Aires, Argentina, and have a brief post:

Clarin, the newspaper whose stock went up by 50% the day after Kirchner’s death, has these two top headlines today (all links in Spanish):
Cristina returns today and shows strength: “The President will resume her full schedule tomorrow. Tuesday she’ll be at a business event in Cordoba. She will start her tour of Asia on Friday where she’ll attend the G-20 meeting.”

The poster above is one of thousands printed, distributed, and pasted on every corner of the city by the government the day after Kirchner’s death.

Today is Brazil’s runoff election:
Brasil’s ballots: Surveys confirm Dilma as the favorite. “Results were released this morning and show she will obtain between 55-56% of the vote against her Socialdemocrat rival Jose Serra.”
I know a guy named Jose Serra who is neither Brazilian, nor politician nor socialdemocrat.

Internet connections are iffy, so posting will continue to be sporadic, but I see that in the States the Jon Stewart rally went entirely as expected.

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Argentina’s new media law: 15 Minutes on Latin America

Monday, October 12th, 2009

Today’s podcast at 11AM Eastern: How Argentina’s new law limits the media.

Related reading:
Argentine Senate overwhelmingly approves media law
Argentina clamps down on private media ownership
Argentina clamps down on freedom of the press