Peruvian media giant El Comercio is facing a legal challenge to their recent purchase of a majority share in a competing company.
According to the Knight Center of the University of Texas at Austin, a free press advocacy group, El Comercio now owns 54% of the editorial house Epensa, a fellow media conglomerate.
Following the acquisition, a group of eight journalists filed a lawsuit accusing Grupo El Comercio of creating an illegal media concentration by buying a majority stake in Epensa.
The Knight Center reports that prior to El Comercio’s purchase of Epensa, it already controlled just under half of the entire national newspaper market. The same source says that Epensa commanded about 28% of the market. This means that El Comercio’s control of Epensa has given them sway over 77% of the national newspaper market, which has some journalists and citizens worried.
The Knight Center quotes the lawsuit as asking “the judge to keep in mind, throughout the process, that this debate is about plurality and diversity being confronted by concentration and monopolizing. In other words, between democracy and informative totalitarianism.”
According to the Knight Center, El Comercio competitor Grupo La Republica has also expressed discontent with the potential financial ramifications caused by the purchase of Epensa.
The lawsuit against Grupo El Comercio was filed by eight journalists, including founding director of Caretas magazine Enrique Zileri Gibson.