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Businessmen, Partisans and Oligarchs: Political Control, News Production Philosophies And Partisan Bias In Mexican Television News
Unformatted Document Text:  35 In Tabasco, however, Gónzalez’ preference has been for the governing PRI. In fact, prior to the 2000 election, after Tabasco’s Roberto Madrazo had been knocked out of the internal PRI primary, even mentioning the PRD or those closely associated with it was prohibited. It is unclear whether the relationship is anything more than pragmatic. News employees were told that the government’s advertising purchases were enough to cover the payroll. However, some at the station believe that Gónzalez is betting Madrazo becomes Mexico’s next president, a possibility since he is now the PRI’s president and likely will be its candidate for president in 2006. Should Gónzalez’ preference change, however, station personnel will be expected to comply. As the news director told an employee: Look, this is the way we are here. If the boss asks you to paint yourself yellow (the PRD’s colors), you paint yourself yellow. And if the boss asks you to paint yourself tricolor (the PRI’s colors), you paint yourself tricolor. And if the boss asks you to paint yourself blue (the PAN’s colors), you paint yourself blue. 44 Conclusions While quantitative analysis found that state ownership of local television news stations and control of the state governor’s post produced more partisan news bias, qualitative analysis strongly suggested that ownership and political control alone do not increase bias. The willingness of the governor to use the station as a tool to promote partisan or personal interests is what increased bias. Given the structure of Mexican state television, neither independent journalists nor more plural state legislatures were able to stop that. On the other hand, private sector ownership allowed station owners to use the news for their own gain if that fit their philosophy of news production. Partisan bias was lower where station owners looked predominately to the public interest or to commercial profit in a politically diverse broadcast 44 Anonymous informant.

Authors: Hughes, Sallie. and Lawson, Chappell.
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35
In Tabasco, however, Gónzalez’ preference has been for the governing PRI. In fact, prior
to the 2000 election, after Tabasco’s Roberto Madrazo had been knocked out of the internal PRI
primary, even mentioning the PRD or those closely associated with it was prohibited. It is
unclear whether the relationship is anything more than pragmatic. News employees were told
that the government’s advertising purchases were enough to cover the payroll. However, some at
the station believe that Gónzalez is betting Madrazo becomes Mexico’s next president, a
possibility since he is now the PRI’s president and likely will be its candidate for president in
2006. Should Gónzalez’ preference change, however, station personnel will be expected to
comply. As the news director told an employee:
Look, this is the way we are here. If the boss asks you to paint yourself yellow (the
PRD’s colors), you paint yourself yellow. And if the boss asks you to paint yourself
tricolor (the PRI’s colors), you paint yourself tricolor. And if the boss asks you to paint
yourself blue (the PAN’s colors), you paint yourself blue.
44
Conclusions
While quantitative analysis found that state ownership of local television news stations
and control of the state governor’s post produced more partisan news bias, qualitative analysis
strongly suggested that ownership and political control alone do not increase bias. The
willingness of the governor to use the station as a tool to promote partisan or personal interests is
what increased bias. Given the structure of Mexican state television, neither independent
journalists nor more plural state legislatures were able to stop that. On the other hand, private
sector ownership allowed station owners to use the news for their own gain if that fit their
philosophy of news production. Partisan bias was lower where station owners looked
predominately to the public interest or to commercial profit in a politically diverse broadcast
44
Anonymous informant.


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