Reuters reports that the Argentine senate has passed the country’s broadcast media reform bill proposed by President Cristina Fernandez on a vote of 44 to 24. Fernandez says the overhaul will open the country’s airwaves to new players, and called the bill an attempt to make radio and TV broadcasts more democratic by capping the number of licences controlled by media giants such as Grupo Clarin. The bill, which was passed by the lower house last month, sets limits on the number of media outlets companies can own and calls for a new government-controlled regulatory body responsible for handing out and renewing radio and TV licences. It also allows telecoms cooperatives to launch their own TV services, although mainstream telcos remain barred from offering triple-play, after President Fernandez dropped at the last minute an earlier modification enabling them to provide pay-TV, in order to appease the opposition to ensure the bill would be passed. Critics have said the overhaul will increase state influence over the media.
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