Licensing / Media Regulation
The Case of Patrick Chitongo
Closed Expands Expression
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The Argentine Media Law, which prohibited the monopolization of licenses and particularly affected Grupo Clarin, the main media outlet of the government’s opposition group, was found not to be discriminatory.
Grupo Clarin brought this case against the Argentine government, arguing that the recently passed Ley de Servicios de Comunicación Audiovisual (Media Law) was unconstitutional. Because the Media Law would restrict the number of licenses allowed per company, Grupo Clarin argued that it went against its property rights, discriminatorily affecting its sustainability and indirectly restricting its right to freedom of expression.
The case gained notoriety because Grupo Clarin was the primary media outlet speaking out against the government and would have been the main company affected by the implementation of the Media Law.
The case was brought before the Supreme Court of Argentina, which determined that the Media Law was not unconstitutional. The Court reached this decision after considering several key points. First, the Court found that Grupo Clarin was unable to prove that its sustainability was at risk. Next, the Court stated that there is no right to the preservation of a certain juridical order or state of the law. Then, the Court clarified that the Media Law would not affect Grupo Clarin alone, but would be applied throughout the nation. Finally, the Court affirmed that the social facet of freedom of expression and information is a matter that the government has a direct interest in protecting and, therefore, held that passing a law against a monopolized media was legitimately directed to that end.
Additionally, the Court clarified that the acquired rights of Grupo Clarin, in regard to the licenses it already possessed, should be dealt with during the implementation of the Media Law through proper compensation. The Justices also indicated, in relation to the highly controverted status of the case, that the democratic and correct implementation of the Media Law would necessarily include clear, fair, and equal treatment in regards to the distribution of state advertisement, subsidies, and direction from the relevant authority.
Decision Direction indicates whether the decision expands or contracts expression based on an analysis of the case.
This decision has been analyzed in two ways. On the one hand, it provides sound grounds against the monopolization of the media, thus furthering freedom of expression. On the other hand, the decision was unexpected locally and criticized by some who viewed it as the Supreme Court’s support of the Argentine government over its opposition in the media.
Global Perspective demonstrates how the court’s decision was influenced by standards from one or many regions.
Case significance refers to how influential the case is and how its significance changes over time.
The Supreme Court of Argentina decides cases on an individual basis, and its case law does not create binding precedents. However, the Court is the ultimate interpreter of the Constitution, and, as such, its decisions are highly persuasive.
Let us know if you notice errors or if the case analysis needs revision.