September 10, 2009 / 8:51 PM / 10 years ago

Tax authorities raid Argentina's biggest newspaper

 * Clarin would be hurt by proposed media reforms
 * Tax agency says raid is routine
 BUENOS AIRES, Sept 10 (Reuters) - Argentine tax authorities
raided the offices of Argentina's biggest daily newspaper on
Thursday, escalating tensions between the government and one of
Latin America's largest media groups.
 More than 150 tax officials carried out inspections at a
Buenos Aires building housing the offices of Buenos Aires daily
Clarin, which is owned by media and telecommunications company
Grupo Clarin CLA.BA.
 The raid comes as President Cristina Fernandez is pushing a
new media reform bill that analysts say will weaken Grupo
Clarin's role as the dominant media company in Argentina.
 Fernandez's husband and predecessor, former president
Nestor Kirchner, has publicly criticized Clarin's coverage of
the government as biased and described the company as a
"monopoly."
 Clarin has responded with intensive negative coverage of
the proposed media reform.
 Grupo Clarin owns newspapers, television and radio
interests, as well as cable and Internet access companies. Its
share price closed down 1.6 percent at 6 pesos per share on
Thursday at the Buenos Aires Stock Exchange as local television
stations covered the tax raid.
 A spokesman for the AFIP tax agency said the raid was aimed
at examining the company's books and was similar to recent
inspections carried out at other companies.
 But Martin Etchevers, a Grupo Clarin spokesman, questioned
the raid and said the company was being singled out.
 "This kind of inspection has never occurred in the history
of Clarin," he told a local TV channel.
 Last week, the head of Argentina's broadcast regulator said
he had vetoed the merger of the country's two cable TV
operators owned by Grupo Clarin, a move that also drew
criticism from company officials.
 Argentine lawmakers are currently debating President
Fernandez's media reform bill, which would overhaul the
country's broadcast regulations, which date from the 1976-83
military dictatorship.
 (Reporting by Guido Nejamkis, Juliana Castilla and Jorge
Otaola; Writing by Kevin Gray, editing by Matthew Lewis)


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