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Government in Argentina submits new broadcasting bill to Congress
Apr 30, 2001

The Argentinian goverment is set to present a new broadcasting bill to Congress that among other things sets limits to the number of news media under the control of a single owner. The new bill also includes curbs on foreign capital by stipulating that the associations that offer basic broadcasting services are allowed to incorporate up to 40 percent of foreign capital, and may offer up to 15 per cent of their shares on the Securities Market, while at least 60 per cent of their capital will be required to be of domestic origin.

Associations that run complementary services will be allowed to incorporate up to 49 per cent of foreign capital and sell 30 per cent of their shares on the local Stock Exchange. The bill clarifies that, with the exception of those countries with which there is no signed reciprocity agreement, licensing agencies will not be allowed to fall under the control of foreign corporations or engage in agreements that allow foreign capital to occupy a controlling position. According to Comfer [Federal Committee for Broadcasting] reciprocity is being emphasized with the objective of promoting the growth of the national industry, as well as encouraging Argentine syndicates to enter other markets.

The new law allows cooperatives, non-government organizations and municipalities to obtain licences and encourages national content. The initiative views the communication industry as a "social resource" and essential for the adequate operation of the "republican, federal and democratic" system of government.

The new regulation, which will replace Law 22.285, which has been in effect since the 1981, defines everything related to basic and complementary broadcasting services.

With respect to licensing procedures, radio services on AM frequencies, as well as those on open television, will be approved by the Executive Branch. On the other hand, FM frequencies and other related services will be approved by the National Radio and Television Commission (Conarte), which will be the agency responsible for implementing the law. This agency, which will replace the current Federal Broadcasting Committee, will fall under the National Executive Branch.

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