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Mexico's Ley Televisa and TV Duopoly

Sure, the heated U.S. immigration debate is also being discussed south of the border. But so is another controversy, which could have a lasting impact on the future of media in Mexico, but has hardly been mentioned in the English-language press. The recent reform of a law, which gives more power to already established media monopolies, has got Mexican bloggers pecking at their keyboards at a feverish rate. In fact, the peak of attention awarded to the controversy by the blogosphere is clearly displayed in this Technorati graph posted on ALT1040.

Durante mucho tiempo yo no sabía ni que pensar de la Ley Televisa porque no entendía nada. Mucha gente probablemente está un poco en este canal.

For a long time, I didn't have any idea what to think about the Televisa Law, because I didn't understand anything about it. A lot of people are probably in the same boat.

So says Eduardo Arcos in his latest podcast (ES) with Fernando Benavides as the two cyberpundits sit down to better understand the new media law and what it means for the future of content distribution in Mexico. Certainly, it is probable that the English-language media has ignored the new development precisely because it is so difficult to understand. Writing from the northern industrial city of Monterrey, Eduardo Domínguez gave context to the controversy facing the reform days before it was approved by Mexico's congress.

El congreso esta a punto de aprobar la llamada Ley “Televisa” de Radio y Televisión. Esta ley a sido súmamente criticada y explico aquí la razón: Los canáles de radio y televisión utilizan un espacio en el espectro radioeléctrico para poder transmitir. Este espacio esta limitado y es concesionado por el gobierno para su uso y comercialización. Con el surgimiento de nuevas tecnologías como la televisión de alta definición y otras más, se liberarán espacios que ahorita ocupan canales de TV, es decir, no se requrirá tanto espacio o ancho de banda para transmitir dejando libre espacio para otros canales y otros servicios como telefonía e internet inalámbrico.

The congress is about the approve the so-called “Ley Televisa” for Radio and Television. This law has been extremely criticized and here I'll explain why. The channels of radio and television use a space in the radio-electric spectrum in order to transmit their signal. This space is limited and its use and commercialization is regulated by the government. With the surge in new technologies like high-definition television and others, space that right now is occupied by TV channels will be freed up. Which is to say, not as much space or spectrum will be required for transmission leaving free space for other channels and other services like telephony and wireless internet.

En otros países como Estado Unidos este recurso que quedó libre ha sido retomado por el gobierno para licitarlo nuevamente. Esto tiene beneficios para el país por que es un ingreso adicional, y para el consumidor por que se crearán más y nuevos servicios de telecomunicaciones. En México esto no ocurrirá así. Nuestros diputados y senadores están a punto de aprobar una ley que, en lugar de retomar este nuevo espacio, se lo regalará literalmente a los actuales concesionarios (Televisa, TV Azteca y cualquiera que tenga un canal de TV), promoviendo la creación de Monolpolios u Oligopolios e ignorando las recomendaciones de la Comisión Federal de Competencia. ¿Por qué? pues para que las televisoras apoyen a sus candidatos entre otros intereses mas. La situación es realmente vergonzosa.

In other countries, like the United States, this resource that remains free has been regained by the government to auction it off. This has benefits for the country because it is an additional income and also for the consumer because it creates more and new telecommunication services. In Mexico, that's not what will happen. Our deputies and senators are about to approve a law that, instead of regaining this new spectrum, will literally give it away to the current license holders (Televisa, TV Azteca, and whoever else has a TV channel), promoting the creation of monopolies or oligopolies and ignoring the recommendations of the Federal Commission of Competition. Why? Well, because the networks support their candidates among their other interests. The situation is really disgraceful.

The post inspired numerous impassioned comments.

Felipe Olivares remarked:

…solo en México pasan esas cosas. Es una pena. Uno quiere creer que el “gobierno del cambio” no dejaría que este tipo de cosas pasen, pero por lo visto mientras los mexicanos seamos como somos, siempre vamos a tener un “PRI” gobernándonos.

Only in Mexico do these things take place. It's a shame. One wants to believe that the “government of change” [referring to the PAN party] wouldn't let these types of things happen, but apparently as long as we Mexicans remain the same, we're always going to have a “PRI” [longstanding “party” dictatorship] governing us.

Cesar adds:

Claro que esto solo ocurre en Mexico… En vez de que se preocupen por nuevas reformas que nos traigan bienestar a todos los Mexicanos, se enfocan en otras que traen bienestar a ellos y un circulo muy selecto de empresarios.

Of course this only happens in Mexico … Instead of worrying about new reforms that deliver well-being to all Mexicans, they focus on others that bring well-being to themselves and a select circle of businessmen.

And Catalina Gonzalez observes:

Nos tienen tan ocupados tratando de ganarnos la vida “decentemente” que los que tienen el poder tienen todo el tiempo del mundo para denigrarnos a nosotros los ciudadanos y sacar provecho de todo lo que se deje. De verdad que me hiere en lo mas profundo lo que esta pasando … lo peor es que la mitad de las personas que conozco no se ha ni enterado de lo que pasa. La desinformacion es increible y ahora con esta ley peor, aunque tengamos ganas de informarnos… no vamos a tener una fuente confiable inmediata para hacerlo.

We keep so busy just trying to support our lives “decently” that those in power have all the time in the world to degrade us, the citizens, and take advantage of everything they're able to. Seriously, I'm deeply wounded by what is happening … the worse is that half of the people I know haven't even heard of what is going on. The disinformation is incredible and now, with this terrible law, even if we wanted to inform ourselves, we're not going to have a nearby trustworthy source to do it.

In a follow-up, Domínguez publishes the only response he received from the three senators of Nuevo Leon state that he tried to contact. Senator Fernando Margáin of the PAN party replies:

Gracias por tu comunicación. Efectivamente este asunto es muy complejo y no tan limitado y, en ocasiones(según el medio de comunicación), no tan preciso. Estos trabajos tienen casi 10 años realizandose y hoy podria avanzarse varios pasos en el tema o dejarse como esta.¡¡¡¡¡¡¡Cuántas cosas quisiera cambiar y concretar en tantos temas tanimportantes!!!!!!!!! Pero……. Sabes tan bien como yo qué dificil es alcanzar consensos. Saludos.

Thank you for your communication. Effectively, this topic is very complex, not so limited, and at times (depending on the medium of communication) not so precise. These changes have been developing for almost 10 years and today various steps could be advanced in the topic or could just be left as is. How many things I would like to change and fulfill in so many important subjects!!!!!! But … you know as well as I do how difficult it is to reach consensus. Regards.

Domínguez notes that the senator then voted in favor of the reform. It should come as no surprise that not a single Mexican blogger supports the new reform, but protest abounds, beginning with the website No to the Televisa Law (ES) and its accompanying weblog (ES).

ley televisa

“Caja Idiota” (Idiot Box) by “Chibiboto

Enigmatario explains (ES) how the upcoming election aided the passage of the controversial reforms without protests from any opposition parties:

Y cuidado, porque hasta los candidato a la presidencia (Felipe Calderón, Roberto Madrazo y Andrés Manuel López Obrador) para no tener el enojo de los medios de comunicación (ahora si, en especial, Televisa) cabildearon con sus congresistas a favor de dicha ley, para que así, el tiempo aire o los costos o los comentarios o criticas, no sean desfavorables para su causa.

And careful because even the presidential candidates (Felipe Calderón, Roberto Madrazo y Andrés Manuel López Obrador) – in order to not anger the media (especially now Televisa) – lobbied their senators in favor of the said law so that the airtime or the costs or the commentaries or the criques won't be unfavorable to their cause.

Some observers are hoping to defeat the media duopoly of Televisa and TV Azteca by saying farewell to television altogether. Marco Carlos Avalos has already proposed a boycott (ES) of television.

In a comment (ES), he argues:

Propongo un boicot a Televisa, TV Azteca y los grupos radiofónicos que se verán beneficiados con esta ley abusiva y absurda. Propongo dejar de ver y escuchar estos medios durante la primer semana de mayo y dedicar ese tiempo a leer este blog de Eduardo Arcoso un libro, o sacar a pasear al perrito o simplemente vivir. Hagamos algo ya para que México cambie…protestemos!

I propose a boycott of Televisa, TV Azteca, and the radio groups that expect to be benefitted by this abusive and absurd law. I propose that we stop watching and listening to these media during the first week of may and dedicate that time to reading this blog of Eduardo Arcos or a book, or taking the dog for a walk, or simply living. Let's do something already so that Mexico changes … let's protest!

Not surprisingly, Arcos himself is also looking toward the future:

Un día alguien me preguntó que opinaba de la «Ley Televisa» y me pareció gracioso porque es una pregunta que yo como blogger y podcaster he estado haciendo ultimamente a algunas personas.

Lo pensé un poquito y contesté que los más afectados no son los consumidores sino las televisoras; de hecho es probable que consumidores a la larga se vean beneficiados si deciden adoptar herramientas de publicación y crear su propio blog, su podcast o videoblog, inclusive si deciden montar un wiki o un foro de discusión.

¿Por qué? por medio de la reforma a la ley de radio y televisión en México, Televisa y TV Azteca han decidido cerrar el mercado y eso significa una sola cosa: la creación de mercados emergentes.

One day someone asked me what I thought of the “Ley Televisa” and it struck me as funny because it's a question that, as a blogger and podcaster, I've been recently asking others.

I thought a little bit and answered that those most affected aren't the consumers, but rather the networks; in fact, it's probable that the consumers, in the long run, are benefitted if they decide to adopt publishing tools and create their own blog, podcast, or videoblog, as well as if they decide to start a wiki or discussion forum.

Why? Because of the reform to the law of radio and television in Mexico, Televisa and TV Azteca have decided to close the market and that means only one thing: the creation of emerging markets.

The full text of the reformed law is available in Spanish as a PDF file.

7 comments

  • Woow, thnxs for this link to mi blog…

    El Enigma
    Nox atra cava circumvolat umbra

  • 2006 台灣網誌青年運動會剪影…

     

    前幾天說過要去, 所以今天去聽了下午的場次, 稍微的紀錄一下…

    首先是 Rebecca MacKinnon 的演說, 她舉了很多的例子說明全世界很多的地方的 bloggers…

  • Thanks for the information. I am involved in the Immigrant Rights struggle here in Divided States and I see more and more how influential and powerful all media can be for us, especially how simple Text Messaging and Spanish-language radio was wisely utilized during the recent student walkouts and rallies in support of immigrant rights.

    I want to write and post with Global Voices but have not figured out how to post yet or even if I can without being invited or something.

    Gracias, Peta de Aztlan
    De Todos Para Todos Blog

  • Nuevo podcast en Dixo.com: videoblogs

    Esta vez hablamos de videoblogs como escapatoria a la infame "Ley Televisa" y la distorsión y bloqueo de mercado que produce.Link al audio:

  • […] Bueno, lo referí hace tiempo aquí mismo bajo el titulo “Ley de medios, Ley Televisa e incongruencias” y que hasta Globalvoice fue a parar sobre que los candidatos a la presidencia no deseaban ver que los medios de comunicación se enfadaran con ellos, de hecho, aunque en tribuna en el senado en la anterior legislatura, el PRD se desgarraba las vestiduras, en la cámara de diputados, Pablo Gómez visito a López Obrador para pedir “su consejo” aunque fue a preguntar, que movimiento había que hacer, y se dio luz verde de apoyar la ley Televisa en la cámara baja. […]

  • great article! I always listen to televisa at http://www.vivoradio.com. It is amazing how Mexican regulators are doing this stuff with the radio

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