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Argentina appeals legal victory by media giant

Buen2BUENOS AIRES: Argentine government filed an appeal with Supreme Court Friday after a lower court granted the Grupo Clarin time to challenge an anti-monopoly law that could force the media giant's breakup.


Clarin, a fierce critic of President Cristina Kirchner, obtained an injunction a day before a midnight Friday deadline for it to comply with the law by submitting plans for selling off broadcast assets.


The Civil and Commercial Appeals Court ruled late Thursday that  implementation of the law would be suspended until the Supreme Court renders a decision on whether it is constitutional.


The government asked the Supreme Court to "immediately suspend" and then "declare void" the ruling favoring Clarin, Kirchner's office said in a statement Friday.


Kirchner's government says the goal of the 2009 law is to break up media monopolies, but Clarin sees it as an attack on the opposition press and on private property.


Martin Sabbatella, chief of the media regulatory body AFSCA, on Thursday called the injunction a "disgrace" that "harms democracy," while Attorney General Julio Alak criticized the court's decision as "arbitrary."


The vitriol between both sides is playing out in the Argentine press, with accusations and counter-charges flying almost daily.


Clarin, the country's largest daily newspaper and a broadcast and cable TV heavyweight, reported revenues of $2 billion in 2011.


Alak said the Clarin legal victory makes a "mockery" of the people's will by rejecting a law passed by Congress.


In an ad, Clarin hit back at the justice minister, saying he once again "has publicly and unabashedly threatened the judicial branch and made false accusations" against the media conglomerate.


Since she took office in 2007, Kirchner has clashed frequently with Clarin, one of her administration's most dogged critics.


Kirchner also earlier filed a complaint against the management of Clarin and another newspaper, La Nacion, over their purchase of a printing site that operated during the 1976-1983 military dictatorship.


Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2010


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