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Businessmen, Partisans and Oligarchs: Political Control, News Production Philosophies And Partisan Bias In Mexican Television News
Unformatted Document Text:  8 controlled more than 1,500 companies, including such important advertisers as banks, the telephone company, airlines, etc. Additionally, economic controls allowed it to block or subsidize the importation of broadcasting technology and inputs. By the late 1990s, however, the bulk of state-owned enterprises had been sold to private investors, economic regulation had been drastically reduced, and barriers to international trade and investment had fallen dramatically. In 1999, government advertising overall was well below private sector advertising (approximately $600 million compared to over $1,400 million). Moreover, government spending came from more than one partisan source. As a result of sweeping electoral reforms in 1996, opposition parties were granted substantial access to public funds for both campaigns and party-building purposes. Enriched by new public campaign financing, each of the major parties spent millions of dollars on media purchases. In 1997, for instance, Mexico’s political parties spent some $278 million, the bulk of it on television ads; of this sum, only $111.5 million came from the PRI. 17 In 2000, expenditures were approximately as high and as balanced; all told, the three main candidates bought approximately 25 hours of advertising on the two main networks during the first half of 2000. 18 As Televisa’s CEO Emilio Azcárraga Jean put it, democracy was “very, very good business” for the networks. 19 16 For Emilio Azcárraga Jean’s statements, see The Miami Herald, 9 November 1997; Reforma, 26 July 1997; Reforma, 21 March 1998; Enrique Sanchez Ruiz, “Fin del antiguo regimen televisivo,” Reforma, 18 January 1998. 17 See Academia Mexicana de Derechos Humanos, Observación de gastos de campaña para Jefe de Gobierno del Distrito Federal (Mexico City, Academia Mexicana de Derechos Humanos, 1997). 18 For spending figures in 2000, see George W. Grayson, A Guide to the 2000 Mexican Presidential Election: An Election Studies Report of the CSIS Americas Program, Mexico Project (Washington, D.C.: Center for Strategic and International Studies, June 2000): 25, 62. Counts of ad time are taken from Reforma newspaper’s media monitoring effort, which was conducted for twelve hours every day in three different times: early morning (6 through 10 a.m.), early afternoon (1 through 4 p.m.), and evening prime time (7 through 11 p.m.). Every type of program broadcast in the corresponding time on the main channels broadcasting from Mexico City was monitored: news programs, sports, soap operas, entertainment shows, etc. For further detail, see Alejandro Moreno, “The Effects of Negative Campaigning on Mexican Voters,” in Jorge Domínguez and Chappell Lawson, eds. Mexico’s Pivotal Democratic Transition: Campaign Effects, Voting Behavior, and the Presidential Race of 2000 (book manuscript under review). 19 Reforma, 17 August 1998.

Authors: Hughes, Sallie. and Lawson, Chappell.
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8
controlled more than 1,500 companies, including such important advertisers as banks, the
telephone company, airlines, etc. Additionally, economic controls allowed it to block or
subsidize the importation of broadcasting technology and inputs. By the late 1990s, however,
the bulk of state-owned enterprises had been sold to private investors, economic regulation had
been drastically reduced, and barriers to international trade and investment had fallen
dramatically. In 1999, government advertising overall was well below private sector advertising
(approximately $600 million compared to over $1,400 million).
Moreover, government spending came from more than one partisan source. As a result of
sweeping electoral reforms in 1996, opposition parties were granted substantial access to public
funds for both campaigns and party-building purposes. Enriched by new public campaign
financing, each of the major parties spent millions of dollars on media purchases. In 1997, for
instance, Mexico’s political parties spent some $278 million, the bulk of it on television ads; of
this sum, only $111.5 million came from the PRI.
17
In 2000, expenditures were approximately
as high and as balanced; all told, the three main candidates bought approximately 25 hours of
advertising on the two main networks during the first half of 2000.
18
As Televisa’s CEO Emilio
Azcárraga Jean put it, democracy was “very, very good business” for the networks.
19
16
For Emilio Azcárraga Jean’s statements, see The Miami Herald, 9 November 1997; Reforma, 26 July 1997;
Reforma, 21 March 1998; Enrique Sanchez Ruiz, “Fin del antiguo regimen televisivo,” Reforma, 18 January 1998.
17
See Academia Mexicana de Derechos Humanos, Observación de gastos de campaña para Jefe de Gobierno del
Distrito Federal (Mexico City, Academia Mexicana de Derechos Humanos, 1997).
18
For spending figures in 2000, see George W. Grayson, A Guide to the 2000 Mexican Presidential Election: An
Election Studies Report of the CSIS Americas Program, Mexico Project (Washington, D.C.: Center for Strategic and
International Studies, June 2000): 25, 62. Counts of ad time are taken from Reforma newspaper’s media monitoring
effort, which was conducted for twelve hours every day in three different times: early morning (6 through 10 a.m.),
early afternoon (1 through 4 p.m.), and evening prime time (7 through 11 p.m.). Every type of program broadcast in
the corresponding time on the main channels broadcasting from Mexico City was monitored: news programs, sports,
soap operas, entertainment shows, etc. For further detail, see Alejandro Moreno, “The Effects of Negative
Campaigning on Mexican Voters,” in Jorge Domínguez and Chappell Lawson, eds. Mexico’s Pivotal Democratic
Transition: Campaign Effects, Voting Behavior, and the Presidential Race of 2000
(book manuscript under review).
19
Reforma, 17 August 1998.


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