Uruguay’s media groups risk falling into the hands of foreign corporations, outgoing President Jose Mujica warned the South American country’s senators, if a new media law, promoting national control, is not passed.
Sharks, like Mexican tycoon Carlos Slim, Brazil’s Globo mass media group, and Argentina’s leading media corporation El Clarin, are circling, he said.
"There are sharks circling and they will end up swallowing us if this is not regulated," Mujica told local radio station Ocean FM. "I don't want Clarin, Globo or Slim to become media owners in Uruguay."
The Senate its set to endorse a new communications law, which will then have to get the approval of the lower house.
Supporters of the communications bill say it will prevent media ownership by a handful of commercial interests, and at the same time it will promote local talent and products.
The law has been criticized as granting government too tight a grip on media and being ambiguous on certain conditions, something Mujica refutes.
"It seems that anything related to regulation is a mortal sin. It is OK to have a free press, but we don't need monopolies," Mujica said.
The draft clearly states that any applicant for an audiovisual media licence should not be related in any way or be subsidiaries of foreign media companies.
Last year Mujica revoked an agreement that granted Mexican mogul Carlos Slim’s Claro rights to cable television services in Uruguay by a presidential decree. Claro is one of the biggest telecom providers in Latin America, particularly in Mexico where it is used by the majority of the market of the country of 110 million people.
Mujica spoke to the members of congress as outgoing president, before he hands the post to his party mate, Tabare Vazquez, March 1, 2015.