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Businessmen, Partisans and Oligarchs: Political Control, News Production Philosophies And Partisan Bias In Mexican Television News
Unformatted Document Text:  11 the vote in the presidential election, the PRI received 3% more airtime than electoral support in legislative races, while the Alliance for Change received 18% less. (Coverage of the leftist Alliance for Mexico – which never moved from a distant third during the campaign – roughly paralleled its share of the congressional vote.) Bias on certain provincial stations reached dizzying proportions: in PRI-run Tabasco, for instance, the ruling party received approximately 72% of all electoral coverage. By contrast, the ruling party received on about 15% of all time devoted to the parties in the state of Tlaxcala (governed by the PRD), and only 22% of all time in Guanajuato (Fox’s home state, governed by the PAN). Table 1 compares the share of electoral coverage devoted to each major party or alliance during the official campaign period (January 19 to June 28, 2000) on various types of programs. Data include all 93 broadcasts monitored by the IFE, including both network and provincial stations. The first column of data shows coverage of the PRI; the second, coverage of Vicente Fox’s AC; and the third, Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas’s AM. One obvious explanation for disparities in coverage across different stations lies in differences in the partisan composition of the vote across the country. Television stations might play to the tastes of their audience, or they might simply wish to focus on the most viable (and therefore newsworthy) candidates in their areas. Although votes for president are tallied nationally, thus exercising a homogenizing influence over coverage, those for legislative offices are calculated at the district and regional levels. Moreover, some elections for state and local office are held contemporaneously with national contests. Consequently, there is ample reason to think that television coverage might vary according to the strength of each party in any particular state. With this in mind, the first row of Table 1 reports the correlation between each party’s share of media coverage in 2000 on a given news broadcast and its share of the 1997

Authors: Hughes, Sallie. and Lawson, Chappell.
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the vote in the presidential election, the PRI received 3% more airtime than electoral support in
legislative races, while the Alliance for Change received 18% less. (Coverage of the leftist
Alliance for Mexico – which never moved from a distant third during the campaign – roughly
paralleled its share of the congressional vote.) Bias on certain provincial stations reached
dizzying proportions: in PRI-run Tabasco, for instance, the ruling party received approximately
72% of all electoral coverage. By contrast, the ruling party received on about 15% of all time
devoted to the parties in the state of Tlaxcala (governed by the PRD), and only 22% of all time in
Guanajuato (Fox’s home state, governed by the PAN).
Table 1 compares the share of electoral coverage devoted to each major party or alliance
during the official campaign period (January 19 to June 28, 2000) on various types of programs.
Data include all 93 broadcasts monitored by the IFE, including both network and provincial
stations. The first column of data shows coverage of the PRI; the second, coverage of Vicente
Fox’s AC; and the third, Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas’s AM.
One obvious explanation for disparities in coverage across different stations lies in
differences in the partisan composition of the vote across the country. Television stations might
play to the tastes of their audience, or they might simply wish to focus on the most viable (and
therefore newsworthy) candidates in their areas. Although votes for president are tallied
nationally, thus exercising a homogenizing influence over coverage, those for legislative offices
are calculated at the district and regional levels. Moreover, some elections for state and local
office are held contemporaneously with national contests. Consequently, there is ample reason
to think that television coverage might vary according to the strength of each party in any
particular state. With this in mind, the first row of Table 1 reports the correlation between each
party’s share of media coverage in 2000 on a given news broadcast and its share of the 1997


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