Renewal Front leader Sergio Massa accuses Sabbatella of creating a ‘media show’

Three days after the Supreme Court’s ruling declared the constitutionality of the Broadcast Media Law, Buenos Aires City Mayor Mauricio Macri and Tigre Mayor Sergio Massa, the Renewal Front leader, appear willing to close ranks with Clarín, the country’s largest media conglomerate.

On Sunday, after his PRO party won the midterm elections in the City, Macri hurried to launch his campaign for the 2015 presidential elections, and yesterday he hurried to make his first promise to attract voters. He said that if he were elected, he would promote a more “practical” media law to replace the one that was approved by Congress in 2009.

“I want a more practical Media law, one that is less controversial,” he said after visiting the City neighbourhood of Belgrano to inaugurate a low-level crossing between Superí and Olazábal streets.

“The current Media Law has lots of problems and evidence of that is that very little of it has been applied, not counting the fight between the government and Clarín,” the City mayor said, referring to the four-year legal struggle that the Supreme Court brought to an end with a ruling declaring the constitutionality of the antitrust law, which regulates the number of licences a media group can own.

Once again, he demanded the dismissal of the head of the AFSCA media watchdog, Martín Sabbatella, considering him “unfit” for the position. Macri also requested that the law be implemented on all media groups, those linked to the government and those opposed to the Kirchnerite administration.

“The Media Law should not be used to build up a narrative,” Macri complained.

It was not the first time the City mayor has openly supported the media conglomerate. In May, Macri signed an emergency decree to create a “Freedom of Expression Law,” which contradicts the Media Law in what he described as an effort to protect freedom of speech in the City, but critics characterized as an effort to shield the conglomerate from regulation.

Massa attacks Sabbatella

Renewal Front leader Sergio Massa yesterday accused Sabbatella of leading a “media show” by showing up at Clarín’s offices.

“We cannot mix constitutionality with arbitrary actions,” the former Cabinet chief to President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner said yesterday. Like Macri, Massa seems to be looking ahead to the 2015 elections, although he has not made his presidential ambition public yet.

Massa, the clear winner of Sunday’s elections, echoed some of the concerns uttered by the PRO lawmakers, despite having praised the justices’ for their decision a day earlier.

“We Argentines are fed up with this kind of subjugation,” he said in reference to Sabbatella’s visit to Clarín’s offices, comparing the AFSCA head with controversial Domestic Trade Secretary Guillermo Moreno and pro-Kirchnerite social leader Luis D’Elía.

Macri’s lawmakers

A group of opposition lawmakers, mainly from Macri’s PRO, requested the Supreme Court to freeze its own ruling yesterday. Federico Pinedo, Patricia Bullrich, Paula Bertol, Pablo Tonelli, Laura Alonso, Cornelia Schmidt-Liermann, Alberto Jorge Triaca, Gladys González and Roberto Pradines made the presentation before the tribunal, a move that was more symbolic than pragmatic.

In their writ, they requested the court “suspend the law’s enforcement until the guidelines suggested by the court are established in Argentina, until freedom of expression and freedom of press are guaranteed, the necessary grounds for the rule of law and a democratic system.”

Opposition lawmakers also demanded that the verdict not be enforced until a new media watchdog — “a specialized and independent institution” — is created.

The lawmakers also asked for the suspension of the law until after there is a body that regulates public advertisement.

Those guidelines were also suggested by Justices Ricardo Lorenzetti, Eugenio Zaffaroni, Elena Highton de Nolasco, Carmen Argibay, Juan Carlos Maqueda and Enrique Petracchi in their ruling on Tuesday.

Pro-government Nuevo Encuentro lawmaker Gabriela Cerruti yesterday made fun of the lawmakers who went to Court: “All inmates think about going to court to request that their sentences be frozen until prison living standards are exemplary.”

— Herald with DyN, Online Media

Buenos Aires City Mayor Mauricio Macri says the Media Law needs to be amended