An Argentinian appeals court on Wednesday struck down key parts of a 2009 media law that was designed to dismantle the media empire Clarin [media website, in Spanish]. The controversial bill, which would force Clarin to sell profitable business assets, was signed into law [JURIST report] by President Christina Fernandez de Kirchner [official profile, in Spanish] in October 2009. Kirchner claimed that Clarin was trying to bring down her government through biased reporting. In its decision, the court said that the law would arbitrarily and unconstitutionally limit Clarin's right to hold multiple cable and broadcast television licenses, impeding the company's freedom of expression without benefiting the broader population. It further stated that the executive branch and Congress had failed to state any reasonable explanation as to how the law's effects would serve anyone's interest. The Argentinian government has indicated that it will appeal the decision to the Supreme Court.
Many believe the law is another step towards building a pro-government broadcasting monopoly [Economist report]. The appeals court decision comes at a significant time, as Kirchner is pushing legislation that would reshape the justice system. Legal scholars say her plans would enhance the state's power, making it difficult for people and companies to obtain legal protection against government overreach. In 2009, Kirchner reportedly blamed her 20 percent approval rating and a mid-term election loss on Clarin, which controls 46 percent of the Argentina cable market, and wanted to pass the media law before losing her Congressional majority in December.