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Clarin Says Argentina Media Bill Violates Property Rights

Argentina’s Grupo Clarin SA said the country’s media law, which may require it to sell some television stations, violates private property rights and can’t be enforced.

Argentina’s government says Clarin has until Dec. 7, when a court’s suspension of the new media law ends, to sell the assets and comply with the legislation. Clarin should have one year from Dec. 7 to sell any assets if the law takes effect, company spokesman Martin Etchevers told reporters in Buenos Aires today.

Clarin, Argentina’s biggest media company, has frequently clashed with President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner’s government since she took power in 2007. When Fernandez visited Angola in May, a member of her entourage handed out socks emblazoned with “Clarin Lies” to children. Vice President Amado Boudou wore a T-shirt with the same logo during the 2011 campaign.

“The media bill is a law designed to go after Clarin,” said Carlos Moltini, chief executive officer of the company’s Cablevision SA unit, at the news conference today. “They want to take Clarin apart.”

Last week, the country’s media regulator Martin Sabbatella said the government will call for an auction of the company’s licenses that exceed legal limits if it doesn’t act by Dec. 7. The government won’t confiscate or nationalize media companies, Sabbatella said.

Clarin, which Fernandez has described as a “monopoly” biased against her government, has 158 TV licenses, 134 more than the 24 allowed, and employs about 17,000 people, Etchevers said.

Shares in Clarin rose 3.1 percent today to 6.7 pesos in Buenos Aires trading. The company’s American depositary receipts didn’t trade in New York as a result of superstorm Sandy, which shut U.S. markets.

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