The Supreme Court decision recognises a fundamental issue regarding the specificity of the communications sector, whose diversity must be protected, especially because this is the cornerstone of a democratic society. The court states that, ‘Unlike other markets, in the media industry, concentration has social consequences which impact upon the right to information,essential for individual liberties’, and adds that, ‘restrictions strictly related to assets are not disproportionate to the institutional weight of the goals of the Act’.
The ruling has established in Argentina ground-breaking jurisprudence on freedom of speech, placing the social right to have a public and plural debate over the economic rights of companies.
Of course now it is necessary that the law is fully implemented, and as the Supreme Court noted, it is also essential that those who have the responsibility to deploy it respect the will of the legislator, and promote an open and non-discriminatory debate.
The Supreme Court ruling has enabled the diminishment of concentrated media power. On the thirtieth anniversary of the 1983 presidential election which marked the return to democracy after dictatorship, that is perhaps the best tribute that can be made, signifying a country where the powerful are a little less powerful, and the society a little more democratic.Guillermo Mastrini is a researcher and professor of media policy at the National University of Quilmes, Buenos Aires. Related reading: ‘Media ownership battles in Argentina’, by Guillermo Mastrini, Martín Becerra and Santiago Marino.