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UPDATE 2-Argentina anti-monopoly broadcast law constitutional -court

Tuesday, 29 Oct 2013 | 12:23 PM ET

BUENOS AIRES, Oct 29 (Reuters) - Argentina's supreme court on Tuesday ruled as constitutional clauses of a law that will require media conglomerate Grupo Clarin to divest some of its units.

A statement from the court said it had deemed four clauses that it was reviewing in the anti-monopoly broadcast law to be within the terms of the constitution.

The ruling will likely come as a relief for President Cristina Fernandez's government, only a few short days after swallowing the bitter pill of a setback in midterm elections. The government has championed the reform as the start of a new era of media diversity.

Clarin, the country's biggest media group, has argued that the anti-monopoly broadcast law's most controversial clause, Article 161, violates the constitution by forcing companies to sell off previously acquired radio, television or cable TV operating licenses.

The media conglomerate has resisted pressure from Fernandez to comply with the law, which would force it to divest dozens of operating licenses - or have them auctioned by the state.

Critics of the reform have accused Fernandez's center-left government of trying to stifle dissent. Backers of the 2009 law say it aims to do the opposite by diversifying the airwaves.

As well as limiting the number of licenses any one company can hold, the law allocates airspace for non-government groups such as churches and community associations and seeks to promote Argentine-made films and television series.

Following the ruling, Clarin's shares fell 5.76 percent before trade in them was suspended by the Buenos Aires bourse. The bourse said the shares would be suspended until it had more information about the ruling.