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Fri Feb 8, 2019, 03:00 AM

News channel critical of Argentina's Macri blocked from paying salaries

C5N, Argentina's top-rated cable news channel and a leading critical voice against the right-wing Mauricio Macri administration, had a judicial lien issued against its operating account by a Buenos Aires tribunal today.

The ruling, made at the request of the Federal Revenue Agency (AFIP) over a $250 million tax debt owed by an ex co-owner of C5N's former parent company on an unrelated business interest (a chain of service stations), made no exception for operating budgets needed to meet payroll, as Argentine law mandates.

Some 350 employees, many of whom earn as little as 20,000 pesos ($514) monthly, are affected by today's decision. C5N News anchor Antonio Fernández Llorente stated that station attorneys intend to appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court.

"The Law of Freedom of Expression bars the AFIP or any other state agency from jeopardizing payrolls at any media outlet, by way of collecting a debt or otherwise," union delegate Alexis Szewczik noted.

"It's the exact opposite of what this government is doing."

C5N, whose prime-time news program, Minuto Uno, has eclipsed an array of pro-government news channels in ratings since 2017, has earned the ire of state officials through reports into alleged self-dealing, campaign finance violations, and other wrongdoing by the Macri administration, of whose trickle-down policies its anchors and guests are largely critical.

The implosion last May of a carry-trade debt bubble promoted by Macri in 2016 and '17 has led to the most severe recession in Argentina since 2002.

"It's evident this government wants to corner C5N," Congressman Leopoldo Moreau, chair of the Press Freedom Committee, said. "And they're doing it in an electoral year, in hopes of silencing critical voices."

At: https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&tab=wT&sl=auto&tl=en&u=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.pagina12.com.ar%2F173627-bloqueo-a-c-5-n-a-pedido-de-la-afip

Employees gather outside C5N studios in Buenos Aires.

Despite rising to the top in ratings, the cable news station has struggled financially under a series of lawsuits filed by the government since Macri took office three years ago.

Argentine law prohibits state agencies from placing liens on media payroll or other operating accounts. The case is likely to be heard by the nation's Supreme Court.

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