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Businessmen, Partisans and Oligarchs: Political Control, News Production Philosophies And Partisan Bias In Mexican Television News
Unformatted Document Text:  20 the big commercial networks in the national capital than on the smaller provincial stations in the provinces, suggesting that the owners of many of these stations may have felt more vulnerable to PRI pressures than Televisa or Televisión Azteca. Multivariate analysis thus strongly suggests that the combination of station ownership and political control played an important role in shaping news coverage. This role was especially powerful for the PRI, slightly less so for the PRD, and decidedly less important for the PAN. These conclusions are based on aggregate comparisons across the entire campaign. Political pressure on broadcasters to support their parties, however, was not constant over the course of the race. On April 25, about halfway through the 2000 campaign, Mexico’s presidential candidates held their first debate. This event was widely considered a serious setback for the PRI’s candidate; in its wake, Labastida and his top aides met with various state- level leaders to ensure that the ruling party’s famous “machinery” was working properly for the official candidate. Following these meetings, reports of vote buying and coercion increased dramatically, as did pressure on broadcasters to support the ruling party. Not surprisingly, coverage of the PRI spiked dramatically in the following weeks. Whereas the PRI received about 32.2% of all the time dedicated to all the candidates on the programs monitored by the IFE in the last half of April, it received approximately 43.7% in the first half of May. If political pressures lie behind the differences in coverage shown in Tables 1 and 2, the surge in coverage of the PRI should be more pronounced on certain types of programs. Specifically, government-owned stations in PRI-run states would be substantially more susceptible than state television stations in states controlled by the opposition, or the main national networks based in Mexico City. The best way to address this possibility would be compare coverage during the first half of the campaign (January through April) to coverage on

Authors: Hughes, Sallie. and Lawson, Chappell.
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the big commercial networks in the national capital than on the smaller provincial stations in the
provinces, suggesting that the owners of many of these stations may have felt more vulnerable to
PRI pressures than Televisa or Televisión Azteca. Multivariate analysis thus strongly suggests
that the combination of station ownership and political control played an important role in
shaping news coverage. This role was especially powerful for the PRI, slightly less so for the
PRD, and decidedly less important for the PAN.
These conclusions are based on aggregate comparisons across the entire campaign.
Political pressure on broadcasters to support their parties, however, was not constant over the
course of the race. On April 25, about halfway through the 2000 campaign, Mexico’s
presidential candidates held their first debate. This event was widely considered a serious
setback for the PRI’s candidate; in its wake, Labastida and his top aides met with various state-
level leaders to ensure that the ruling party’s famous “machinery” was working properly for the
official candidate. Following these meetings, reports of vote buying and coercion increased
dramatically, as did pressure on broadcasters to support the ruling party. Not surprisingly,
coverage of the PRI spiked dramatically in the following weeks. Whereas the PRI received
about 32.2% of all the time dedicated to all the candidates on the programs monitored by the IFE
in the last half of April, it received approximately 43.7% in the first half of May.
If political pressures lie behind the differences in coverage shown in Tables 1 and 2, the
surge in coverage of the PRI should be more pronounced on certain types of programs.
Specifically, government-owned stations in PRI-run states would be substantially more
susceptible than state television stations in states controlled by the opposition, or the main
national networks based in Mexico City. The best way to address this possibility would be
compare coverage during the first half of the campaign (January through April) to coverage on


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