UPDATE 1-Argentina rejects media group Clarin's reorganization plan

miércoles 8 de octubre de 2014 19:23 GYT

(Adds decision by media regulator to auction on Clarin units)

BUENOS AIRES Oct 8 (Reuters) - Argentina on Wednesday rejected the reorganization plan offered by Grupo Clarin, the country's dominant media conglomerate, and said it will seek to impose a plan of its own to dismantle the company as required by a new media ownership law.

By a 5-0 vote with two abstentions the board of Argentina's Afsca media regulatory agency decided the state should auction off the TV and radio licenses held by Clarin that exceed legal limits.

In February, the group was told by the government to reorganize its radio and television outlets into independent companies after it lost a four-year battle against the law.

Clarin proposed dividing itself into six units, but the government said the plan included "anomalies" that violated the law. Clarin responded by saying it was being persecuted by the government. Without specifying how, Clarin vowed to fight Afsca's decision.

President Cristina Fernandez's anti-monopoly media law, passed in 2009 and upheld by the Supreme Court last year, limits the number of TV and radio licenses that can be controlled by one company.

"It is absolutely clear that (the proposal) does not comply with the law," chief media regulator Martin Sabbatella told reporters. "This is the group that has done the most damage to the democratization of information due to its dominant position."

Fernandez used to have harmonious ties with Grupo Clarin and its chief executive officer, Hector Magnetto, before the company's news outlets criticized her government over its handling of tax protests by farmers in 2008. (Reporting by Hugh Bronstein and Maximiliano Rizzi; Editing by Leslie Adler and Diane Craft)