Friday, June 08, 2007

Mexico: Media Law Reversal Supports Venezuela on RCTV

In a rare show of defiance of the political and corporate elite in Mexico, the Supreme Court has struck down a law that would have turned Mexico's television concession system into a clone of the pre-Hugo Chavez Venezuelan system. Chavez did on his own what the Mexican Justices had to step in and do here - restore teeth and a concern for the public welfare and democracy into media regulations. Perhaps not suprisingly, given what we are learning aboue privale Latin TV "news" networks, Televisa did not report this crushing news in their evening news yesterday.

MEXICO CITY — Mexico's Supreme Court on Thursday struck down key provisions of a controversial media law crafted in large part by the nation's two dominant TV broadcasters.
Thursday's proceedings formally ratified a string of preliminary decisions announced by the court over the last week. The justices rejected large swaths of the media legislation, dubbed the "Televisa Law" by critics because it was largely authored by lawyers from Grupo Televisa and TV Azteca. Together, the two broadcasters control 95% of Mexico's TV stations and virtually all of the industry's advertising revenue.

In a series of stinging rebukes, the justices found several provisions to be unconstitutional because they would discriminate against competitors and would cement the two companies' market dominance. Those provisions would have granted Televisa and TV Azteca 20-year concessions, with renewal virtually guaranteed, and given them new digital bandwidth without having to compete or pay for the public spectrum.

"For the state to give away the broadcasting spectrum required to uphold the fundamental rights of freedom of expression … is unconceivable in a democracy," Justice Genaro Góngora said Tuesday.
Mexico's legislature approved the broadcasting legislation last year in the midst of a tight presidential race. Most Mexicans get their news from broadcast television, making it a crucial vehicle for reaching voters. Legislators have acknowledged intense pressure within their own parties to approve the measure out of fear that their candidates would be denied TV coverage.

"They were incapable of confronting the pressure … the intimidation of those that control the screens and the microphones," said political analyst Jesús Silva Herzog-Márquez, a law professor at the Autonomous Technological Institute of Mexico. The broadcasters have denied using threats or pressure tactics to sway lawmakers.
(Televisa) made no mention of the ruling in its main afternoon news program, devoting time instead to a hepatitis outbreak in southern Mexico and damage to a coral reef in Cancun.


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