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Argentina lower House approves new media ownership laws

[JURIST] Argentina's Chamber of Deputies [official website, in Spanish] approved a bill Thursday that would create new media ownership rules and a new regulatory body to interpret those laws. Argentine President Christina Fernandez De Kirchner [official website; BBC profile] said the proposed law, which would limit how many licenses a media company could own as well as its market share, will create a more competitive media. Critics, including the country's biggest media group, Clarin [media website, in Spanish], said the move is directed at suppressing dissent in the country. The bill passed by a wide margin of 147-7, but more than 100 lawmakers walked out [Reuters report] in protest before the vote could be taken. The bill will now go before the Argentine Senate [official website, in Spanish].

According to news reports, Kirchner blames her 20 percent approval rating and a mid-term election loss on Clarin, which controls 46 percent of the Argentina cable market, and wants to pass the law before losing [VOA report] her Congressional majority in December. Last week, tax agents raided [BBC report] the Clarin newspaper office, and currently, Argentine judges are holding a hearing [AP report] to determine whether the children of a Clarin director are illegally adopted orphans from Argentina's so-called "Dirty War" [JURIST news archive].

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