Argentina’s new Prexy taps Barbaro, Tella

Appointees to tackle numerous issues

BUENOS AIRES — Argentina’s new President Nestor Kirchner has appointed Julio Barbaro as broadcasting regulator and Torcuato Di Tella as culture secretary, two influential entertainment industry posts.

A confidant of the president who was elected May 25, Barbaro replaces Carlos Caterbetti. Barbaro, previously a culture secretary, lawmaker and radio and TV host, will head the broadcasting watchdog, Comfer.

His first task will be to sort out the spat caused by previous President Eduardo Duhalde who, five days before leaving office, greenlit state radio and TV broadcasters in every province. This angered commercial broadcasters including Admira’s Telefe and Grupo Clarin’s Artear-Canal 13 who say this will create unfair competition for ad sales from the public sector.

Barbaro also must clean up a radio spectrum clogged with 7,000 illegal broadcasters. Key to this is pushing legislation through Congress to update the penal code to make the illegal transmission of radio and TV signals punishable with one month to two years in prison.

Another challenge is revising the broadcasting law, widely considered obsolete as it was drawn up the military dictatorship of 1976-83. Proposed changes include setting quotas on the production and airing of local programming, and restricting the number of channels that broadcasters can own in one area.

Di Tella takes over for thesp Ruben Stella. The sociologist, political analyst and author of more than 20 books will be in charge of the two institutes that are a major source of funding for film and theater directors: the Instituto Nacional de Cine y Artes Audiovisuales (INCAA) and the Instituto Nacional del Teatro.

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