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Argentine enforcer to auction critic's licenses

Wednesday, 24 Oct 2012 | 4:45 PM ET

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina -- Argentina's new media regulator says he's prepared to auction off the broadcast licenses of the government's leading critic.

President Cristina Fernandez has set a Dec. 7 deadline for Grupo Clarin to show how it will comply with a law barring media monopolies.

Martin Sabbatella was appointed by Fernandez to lead a new agency similar to the U.S. Federal Communications Commission, with a mandate to ensure that no single company controls too much of Argentina's broadcast spectrum.

Sabbatella told foreign correspondents Wednesday that he has no intention of expropriating stations, but will auction off the broadcast licenses of any company owning more media properties than the law allows.

Clarin spokesman Martin Etchevers says Sabbatella's real objective is to "silence the few independent voices that remain in Argentina's audiovisual industry."