New regulator ENACOM receives Congressional approval

3 Mar 2016

The overhaul of the Argentinian regulatory landscape by new president Mauricio Macri is one step closer, the Buenos Aires Herald reports, after fledgling watchdog the National Entity for Communications (Ente Nacional de Comunicaciones, ENACOM) received its first Congressional approval last week. As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, ENACOM has been created via the merger of the Federal Authority of Audiovisual Communication Services (Autoridad Federal de Servicios de Comunicacion Audiovisual, AFSCA) and the Federal ICT Authority (Autoridad Federal de Tecnologias de la Informacion y las Comunicaciones, AFTIC).

The Congressional approval effectively paves the way for the reform of the Digital Argentina Law, passed in December 2014. According to the newspaper, the new law will maintain the existing restriction on satellite TV operators entering the telecoms market – a clause that was present in both the 2009 Broadcast Media Law and the more recent Digital Argentina Law. However, the changes will allow cable TV operators to hold a single nationwide licence, with no regional limits or other thresholds. The now-repealed Broadcast Media Law established a maximum of 24 licences – one for each province plus Ciudad Autonoma de Buenos Aires – and prevented cable TV companies from surpassing a 35% market share.

Critics have complained that the only clear beneficiary of Mr Macri’s abrupt regulatory overhaul is Grupo Clarin – the media firm that was at loggerheads with former president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner throughout her tenure. Since Macri assumed power in November 2015, Clarin – which offers broadband services via its Cablevision subsidiary – has moved ahead with its deal to take over mobile market minnow Nextel Argentina – a transaction rejected by the previous regime.