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Mapping Digital Media: Mexico.

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MEXICO
MAPPING DIGITAL MEDIA:
COUNTRY REPORT
Mapping Digital Media:
Mexico
A REPORT BY THE OPEN SOCIETY FOUNDATIONS
WRITTEN BY
Rodrigo Gomez and Gabriel Sosa-Plata (lead reporters)
Primavera Téllez Girón and Jorge Bravo (reporters)
EDITED BY
Marius Dragomir and Mark Thompson (Open Society Media Program editors)
EDITORIAL COMMISSION
Yuen-Ying Chan, Christian S. Nissen, Dusˇan Reljic´, Russell Southwood,
Michael Starks, Damian Tambini
The Editorial Commission is an advisory body. Its members are not responsible
for the information or assessments contained in the Mapping Digital Media texts
OPEN SOCIETY MEDIA PROGRAM TEAM
Biljana Tatomir, deputy director; Meijinder Kaur, program assistant;
Morris Lipson, senior legal advisor; Miguel Castro, special projects manager;
and Gordana Jankovic, director
OPEN SOCIETY INFORMATION PROGRAM TEAM
Vera Franz, senior program manager; Darius Cuplinskas, director
4 February 2011
MAPPING DIGITAL MEDIA MEXICO2
Contents
Mapping Digital Media ..................................................................................................................... 4
Executive Summary ........................................................................................................................... 6
Context ............................................................................................................................................. 10
Social Indicators ................................................................................................................................ 11
1. Media Consumption:  e Digital Factor .......................................................................... 13
1.1 Digital Take-up ......................................................................................................... 13
1.2 Media Preferences ..................................................................................................... 15
1.3 News Providers ......................................................................................................... 18
1.4 Assessments .............................................................................................................. 24
2. Digital Media and Public or State-Administered Broadcasters ........................................... 26
2.1 Public Service and State Institutions ......................................................................... 26
2.2 Public Service Provision ............................................................................................ 30
2.3 Assessments ............................................................................................................. 31
3. Digital Media and Society ................................................................................................. 32
3.1 User-Generated Content (UGC) .............................................................................. 32
3.2 Digital Activism ........................................................................................................ 35
3.3 Assessments .............................................................................................................. 38
3OPEN SOCIETY MEDIA PROGRAM 2011
4. Digital Media and Journalism ........................................................................................... 40
4.1 Impact on Journalists and Newsrooms ...................................................................... 40
4.2 Investigative Journalism ............................................................................................ 44
4.3 Social and Cultural Diversity .................................................................................... 47
4.4 Political Diversity ..................................................................................................... 49
4.5 Assessments .............................................................................................................. 52
5. Digital Media and Technology .......................................................................................... 53
5.1 Spectrum .................................................................................................................. 53
5.2 Digital Gatekeeping .................................................................................................. 55
5.3 Telecommunications ................................................................................................. 56
5.4 Assessments .............................................................................................................. 59
6. Digital Business ................................................................................................................ 61
6.1 Ownership ................................................................................................................ 61
6.2 Media Funding ......................................................................................................... 64
6.3 Media Business Models ............................................................................................. 66
6.4 Assessments .............................................................................................................. 68
7. Policies, Laws, and Regulators ........................................................................................... 70
7.1 Policies and Laws ...................................................................................................... 70
7.2 Regulators ................................................................................................................ 74
7.3 Government Interference .......................................................................................... 77
7.4 Assessments .............................................................................................................. 78
8. Conclusions ...................................................................................................................... 80
8.1 Media Today ............................................................................................................. 80
8.2 Media Tomorrow ...................................................................................................... 81
9. Recommendations ............................................................................................................ 82
9.1 Policy........................................................................................................................ 82
9.2 Media Law and Regulation ....................................................................................... 84
9.3 Public Service in the Media ...................................................................................... 85
9.4 Journalism ................................................................................................................ 86
List of Abbreviations, Figures, Tables, Companies ............................................................................. 87
MAPPING DIGITAL MEDIA MEXICO4
Mapping Digital Media
e values that underpin good journalism, the need of citizens for reliable and abundant information, and
the importance of such information for a healthy society and a robust democracy: these are perennial, and
provide compass-bearings for anyone trying to make sense of current changes across the media landscape.
e standards in the profession are in the process of being set. Most of the eff ects on journalism imposed
by new technology are shaped in the most developed societies, but these changes are equally infl uencing the
media in less developed societies.
e Mapping Digital Media project, which examines the changes in-depth, aims to build bridges between
researchers and policy-makers, activists, academics and standard-setters across the world. It also builds policy
capacity in countries where this is less developed, encouraging stakeholders to participate and infl uence
change. At the same time, this research creates a knowledge base, laying foundations for advocacy work,
building capacity and enhancing debate.
e Media Program of the Open Society Foundations has seen how changes and continuity aff ect the media in
diff erent places, redefi ning the way they can operate sustainably while staying true to values of pluralism and
diversity, transparency and accountability, editorial independence, freedom of expression and information,
public service, and high professional standards.
e Mapping Digital Media project assesses, in the light of these values, the global opportunities and risks
that are created for media by the following developments:
the switchover from analog broadcasting to digital broadcasting,
growth of new media platforms as sources of news,
convergence of traditional broadcasting with telecommunications.
Covering 60 countries, the project examines how these changes aff ect the core democratic service that any
media system should provide—news about political, economic and social aff airs.
5OPEN SOCIETY MEDIA PROGRAM 2011
e aim of the Mapping Digital Media project is to assess the impact of these changes on the core democratic
service that any media system should provide, namely news about political, economic and social aff airs.
e Mapping Digital Media reports are produced by local researchers and partner organizations in each
country. Cumulatively, these reports will provide a much-needed resource on the democratic role of digital
media.
In addition to the country reports, the Open Society Media Program has commissioned research papers on a
range of topics related to digital media.  ese papers are published as the MDM Reference Series.
MAPPING DIGITAL MEDIA MEXICO6
Mapping Digital Media: Mexico
Executive Summary
With one powerful group commanding the bulk of advertising revenues and audience, a weak public service
system catering to the tastes of cultural elites, and numerous outlets depending on government money, the
media sector in Mexico does not play a major role in the democratization of this, the most populous Spanish-
speaking country in the world, home to over 112 million people.
e emergence of digital media has not changed this situation: digitization of broadcasting remains an
exclusively market-driven process whereby the access of community media to airwaves is barred while the
internet is a luxury available to a small number of citizens.
In a country ranking among the 15 largest economies worldwide, only 15 percent of households own a digital
device and less than a third have a computer. Most rely on TV and radio.
Although terrestrial television has remained the favorite TV platform in the country, cable and satellite have
made inroads over recent years, with non-terrestrial platforms accounting in 2009 for almost a third of the
country’s households, up from some 20 percent four years earlier. Although it trebled between 2005 and
2009, the internet subscription rate remained low, at under 10 percent, in 2009. However, the number of
internet users was much higher at almost 30 percent that year. Mobile telephony advanced steadily with over
80 percent of Mexicans owning a mobile phone subscription in 2009.
e digital divide between developed cities such as Mexico City, Monterrey, and Guadalajara and the rest
of the country has deepened in recent years as consumption of digital media grew healthily in the three
developed cities and limped along elsewhere. Although digital technologies have signifi cantly changed the
media consumption habits, Mexico has remained heavily dominated by television consumption, which has
continued to grow. On the other hand, press readership, traditionally low, has not been much aff ected by the
spread of digital media.
7OPEN SOCIETY MEDIA PROGRAM 2011
Digital broadcasting has been dormant. After its launch in 2006 it became a reality for a modest 1.6 million
households in 2009, with half of them consuming digital television through paid platforms.  ere are,
however, government plans to introduce subsidies for people to purchase digital devices.
Mexicans are enthusiasts for news.  eir preferred sources are radio, periodicals, and television. On television,
newscasts are the most preferred type of programming, ahead of glitzy soap operas and Mexican and foreign
lms. On radio, news comes second among listeners’ preferences after pop music.
Although it does not have an authentic nationwide press, Mexico still boasts an impressive number of print
outlets: over 800, including 279 daily newspapers. Despite this plethora, their readership remains low and
concentrated in the Federal District where the fi ve largest dailies are published. No major changes have
taken place in the past fi ve years in the print media market. Tabloids boast higher circulations than serious
newspapers. In 2010, the fi ve largest tabloid dailies sold on average 40 percent more copies than the fi ve
bestselling serious dailies. On television, the private stations Televisa and TV Azteca have maintained their
grip on the audience.
With a limited geographical reach of under half of the total Mexican households, blatant interference in its
work from federal and state governments, and insuffi cient funding, Mexican public service television plays
only a marginal role in the country’s television diet.  e two main public stations, Once TV and Channel
22, each command less than 2 percent of the nationwide audience.  e two stations are overtly elitist, with
a heavy emphasis on fi ne arts and high culture, which brings them little social impact and low popularity.
On the other hand, Mexico sports a vibrant public service sector consisting of 56 public radio and television
stations. But their number does not translate into equivalent impact.
ese stations have been lauded, for example, for their eff ectiveness in jointly purchasing high-quality programs,
but otherwise they operate on frugal budgets and their staff is undertrained in handling digital equipment.
Government support for the public service media has remained thin.  e government has repeatedly cut
the budgets of Once TV and Canal 22, which has prevented the two fl agship public broadcasters from
extending their footprint. Mexican public service is gathering support exclusively from civil society groups,
the intelligentsia, and academia.
e internet has emerged in the past fi ve years as a new tool for activism, with non-governmental organizations
(NGOs), citizens, media, politicians, and activists taking advantage of its interactivity and immediacy to
make their voices heard. Campaigns on the internet have created pressure on traditional media to tackle
topics they would not otherwise cover or on state institutions to embrace new technologies.  e internet
has also started to be increasingly used in electoral campaigns.  e impact of digital activism, however, is
signifi cantly blunted by the low internet penetration.
Social networks top the preferences of Mexican internet users, ahead of news websites.  e social networking
market is fragmented, but there are increasingly dominant ones such as Hi5, Metrofl og, and Facebook, which
gather some three-quarters of the social networking user base.
MAPPING DIGITAL MEDIA MEXICO8
Overall, drug-traffi ckers, censoring state bodies, and business pressures are the main challenges for journalists
in Mexico. In a country where the murder of journalists continues to ravage the profession, Mexican
journalism has undergone another major crisis in recent years as advertising has migrated steadily to new
media. Digitization has made news production more cost-eff ective, but it has not translated into better
working conditions for journalists.
Apart from a small circle of well-paid journalists, reporters are underpaid and face many hurdles in their
work: lack of employment security, a high level of competition for work, a broad range of risks going all the
way to murder, and violations of labor provisions. Ethics in journalism are sloppy, with only a few media
outlets boasting self-regulation mechanisms. Although digitization made it easier for investigative journalists
to access more information, they still lack basic rights such as the protection of sources and the use of off -
the-record information.
Digitization of broadcasting has been shaped thus far by industry needs.  e process openly advantages
the dominant commercial players, particularly the mighty Grupo Televisa. Both Televisa and TV Azteca
networks have seen their licenses renewed until 2021, the deadline for analog switch-off . Today, Grupo
Televisa and Televisión Azteca hold together 94 percent of the television frequencies awarded in the country.
Calls from civil society on the broadcast regulator the Federal Commission of Telecommunications (Comisión
Federal de Telecomunicaciones, COFETEL1) to license more stations have been in vain. Not-for-profi t
organizations and communities are not given an equal footing by legislation in the tenders for digital licenses.
ey are entitled only to air as offi cial stations of federal or local administrations and even the procedure
to obtain such an authorization is a more convoluted process than the general application for a broadcast
license. Community radio is not even recognized by law.
Since 2006, the government has not granted any broadcast licenses, ignoring a total of 140 requests for
frequencies. Even powerful telecommunications companies (telcos), whose involvement was expected to spur
competition in the audiovisual content market, did not get access to frequencies. Telmex, the dominant fi xed-
line operator controlled by the world’s richest man, Carlos Slim, which has the fi nancial muscle to dismantle
Televisas domination, cannot do so because of license conditions limiting its activities.  e only two fresh
challenges to Televisa, besides Televisión Azteca, its sole major competitor, are Cadena Tres and Milenio,
which purchased existing channels, but their audience share is very low.
1.  e Federal Telecommunications Commission (COFETEL) was established by the Federal Telecommunications Act published in the Offi cial
Gazette on 7 June 1995. After the 11 April 2006 amendments to the aforementioned Act, and of the Federal Radio and Television Act; it was
consolidated as an administrative body separate from SCT. COFETEL enjoys technical, operative, expenses, and management independence,
and is in charge of regulating, promoting, and supervising the effi cient development and ample social coverage of telecoms and radio broadcast-
ing in Mexico, with full autonomy of decision-making.
9OPEN SOCIETY MEDIA PROGRAM 2011
Televisas grip on Mexican broadcasting has been made possible by legislation allowing for such dominant
positions, which has not changed at all in the past fi ve years despite calls for anti-concentration provisions
from civil society groups and media experts. In fact, over this period, Televisas position was strengthened in
some segments such as pay-TV, where it was allowed by regulators to enter the cable distribution businesses.
Televisa also dwarfs its competitors when it comes to fi nancial power.  e group’s revenues in 2009 were
more than three times higher than those of the second-largest player. In parallel, public media, meanwhile,
are totally dependent on state subventions.  e state is also one of the largest advertisers in the private media,
which on the one hand curtails the independence of these outlets, while on the other hand it allows a slew of
outlets to survive, boosting media diversity.
In recent years, several proposals from experts and civil society organizations to improve the sustainability
and independence of the media have been put forward.  ey have included calls on the government to
redirect its spending on private media towards public service media. More important, this should be part of
a larger process of consolidation of public service broadcasting into a unitary system that would truly serve
the public. On top of that, the country needs legal provisions that would help spawn fresh competition and
diversity in the media. New entrants, including indigenous communities and not-for-profi t organizations,
should thus be given the right to obtain broadcast licenses, and mechanisms to ensure transparency in the
licensing process should be put in place.
MAPPING DIGITAL MEDIA MEXICO10
Context
With 112 million inhabitants, Mexico is the most populous Spanish-speaking nation in the world. Spanish
coexists alongside 62 indigenous languages, which are offi cially recognized by the state. Mexico is a federal
republic and has been moving towards democratic normality since the second half of the 1990s.
In economic terms, Mexico in the last fi ve years has ranked among the 15 largest economies of the world
with a GDP close to US$1,000 billion in 2009.  e country has been battered by the economic downturn,
seeing its GDP diving in 2009, only to recover signifi cantly in 2010.  e economy is predicted to reach a
higher GDP in 2012 than the pre-crisis level of 2008. In socio-economic terms, Mexico displays numerous
inequalities: 47 percent of its population still lives under the poverty threshold.2
Over 93 percent of Mexicans speak Spanish. In 2005, 12.3 percent of the population speaking indigenous
languages did not speak Spanish. Some 6.7 percent of the total population uses the indigenous languages.  e
most used indigenous languages are Amuzgo, Tzotzil, and Tzeltal.  e country is predominantly ethnically
mixed, with indigenous people accounting for only 10 percent of the entire population. Most Mexicans,
some 88 percent, were Roman Catholic in 2005.
2. United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) (2011), Human Development Report, 2010, New York, Statistical annex: 161.
11OPEN SOCIETY MEDIA PROGRAM 2011
Social Indicators3
Population (number of inhabitants): 112.32 million (2010)
Number of households: 28.67 million (2010)
Figure 1.
Rural/urban breakdown (% of total population)
Figure 2.
Ethnic composition (% of total population)
3. National Institute of Statistics, Geography and Information (Instituto Nacional de Estadística, Geografía e Informática, INEGI); Aguscalientes:
México. Labor Observatory (Observatorio laboral), available at http://www.observatoriolaboral.gob.mx/ (accessed 10 August 2010).
Rural 28%Urban 72%
Indigenous 10%
European 18%
Other 2%
Ethnically mixed 70%
MAPPING DIGITAL MEDIA MEXICO12
Figure 3.
Linguistic composition (% of total population)
Figure 4.
Religious composition (% of total population)4
Table 1.
Economic indicators
2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011f 2012f
GDP (current prices)
(US$ bn)
848.94 952.5 1,025.5 1,089.9 874.9 995.9 1,065.5 1,151.4
GDP (US$, current prices)
per head
8,167 9,084 9,694 10,216 8,134 9,168 9,712 10,391
Gross National Income
(GNI) (current US$) per head
12,380 13,550 14,280 15,070 14,100 n/a n/a n/a
Unemployment
(% of total labor force)
3.2 3.6 3.2 3.9 5.1 5.8 5.8 n/a
Infl ation (average annual rate,
% against previous year)
3.3 4.0 3.7 6.5 3.5 5.3 3.0 3.0
Notes: n/a: not available; f: forecast.
Sources: IMF; INEGI and Observatorio laboral; World Bank (for GNI data).
Indigenous languages 6.70%
Spanish 93.30%
4. After 2005, the census did not ask questions about religion.  e category “Other” includes Christian churches other than Catholic, atheist and
agnostics.
Catholic 88%
Other 12%
13OPEN SOCIETY MEDIA PROGRAM 2011
1. Media Consumption:
The Digital Factor
1.1 Digital Take-up
1.1.1 Digital Equipment
Mexican households are not prepared to access content provided by digital media. According to INEGI, of
23.9 million TV households, only 3.6 million own a digital device (see Table 2). Socio-economic indicators
suggest that the technological readiness of households will not increase in the coming years unless the
government subsidizes digital equipment, such as set-top boxes.  e Felipe Calderón Hinojosa administration
has a plan to subsidize digital equipment (see section 7).
Table 2.
Households owning equipment, 2005–2009
2005 2006 2007 2008 2009
HH
(’000)5
% of
THH6
HH
(’000)
% of
THH
HH
(’000)
% of
THH
HH
(’000)
% of
THH
HH
(’000)
% of
THH
TV set 24,803 92.8 25,089 93.4 25,965 93.3 26,920 93.2 28,123 95.1
Radio set 23,647 92.2 23,909 92.7 23.817 93.9 23,895 93.1 n/a 88.9
PC 4.770 18.6 5.313 20.6 5.605 22.1 6.596 25.7 n/a 26.8
Note: n/a: not available.
Sources: Reporters calculations based on data from INEGI, “Encuesta Nacional sobre Disponibilidad y Uso de las Tecnologías de
la Información en los Hogares” (National Enquiry on the Availability and Use of Information Technologies in House-
holds) (hereafter INEGI, “Encuesta Nacional”), 2006, 2009; International Telecommunication Union (ITU), 2010.
5. Total number of households (HH) owning the equipment.
6. Percentage of total number of households (THH) in the country.
MAPPING DIGITAL MEDIA MEXICO14
1.1.2 Platforms
e favorite platforms for Mexican audiences have remained terrestrial radio and television. Nevertheless,
pay-TV platforms including cable and satellite have grown constantly over the past fi ve years.  e number
of satellite households almost trebled while cable subscriptions increased by some 30 percent over the same
period (2005–2010). (See Table 3.)
Table 3.
Platform for the main television reception and digital take-up,7 2005–2009
2005 2006 2007 2008 2009
HH8
(’000)
% of
TVHH9
HH
(’000)
% of
TVHH
HH
(’000)
% of
TVHH
HH
(’000)
% of
TVHH
HH
(’000)
% of
TVHH
Terrestrial reception: 17,563 77.0 17,372 74.4 17,735 73.3 18,052 72.1 19,057 70.4
of which digital 0 0 0 0 n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a
Cable reception: 3,400 14.3 3,972 16.9 4,338 17.8 4,822 19.2 5,121 18.9
of which digital 0 0 0 0 n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a
Satellite reception: 1,180 5.0 1,339 5.7 1,449 5.9 1,524 6.0 2,439 9.0
of which digital n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a 1,524 6.0 2,439 9.0
IPTV 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 n/a n/a
Multiple Multipoint
Distribution Service
(MMDS)10
874 3.7 725 3.0 729 3.0 691 2.7 465 1.7
Total: 23,017 100.0 23,408 100.0 24,251 100.0 25,089 100.0 27,082 100.0
of which digital n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a 2,215 8.7 2,904 10.7
Note: n/a: not available.
Sources: Calculations based on data from UNESCO; OECD (data for terrestrial TV); INEGI, “Encuesta Nacional,” 2009; Di rec-
ción de Información Estadística de Mercados (Department of Statistical Information on Markets); COFETEL, 2009.
Although it almost trebled between 2005 and 2009, internet penetration has remained low in Mexico, with
less than 10 percent of the population having an internet subscription in 2009. On the other hand, mobile
penetration has surged during the period, with more than 80 percent of the people owning a mobile phone
subscription in 2010.
7.  e gures refer to the main TV set in the households for multi-TV households.
8. Total number of households owning the equipment (HH).
9. Percentage of total number of TV households (TVHH) in the country.
10. MMDS, known also as wireless cable, is a wireless telecoms technology used as an alternative way of transmitting cable television programs. It is
common for sparsely populated rural areas where passing cable is not economically viable. Reception of television via MMDS is done through
a special rooftop microwave antenna and a set-top box attached to the TV set.
15OPEN SOCIETY MEDIA PROGRAM 2011
Table 4.
Total fi xed internet subscriptions as % of total population and mobile phone subscriptions
as % of total population in Mexico, 2005–2010
2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010
Internet: 3.7 4.5 5.5 7.7 9.5 n/a
of which broadband 49.4 64.2 78.1 91.0 96.2 n/a
Mobile telephony: 45.1 52.6 62.6 70.3 77.4 80.2
of which 3G 0 0 1.6 2.8 6.5 n/a
Note: n/a: not available.
Source: Calculations based on data from INEGI, “Encuesta Nacional;” Dirección de Información Estadística de Mercados
(2010); COFETEL, 2009.
1.2 Media Preferences
1.2.1 Main Shifts in News Consumption
Terrestrial free-to-air television has long dominated the media landscape. Nevertheless, the overall terrestrial
TV television saw its take-up fall from some 77 percent of the total TV households in 2005 to some 70 percent
in 2009. In recent years, signifi cant changes have taken place in the reception equipment and consumption
of digital media, principally in the three major cities, Mexico City, Monterrey, and Guadalajara, as well as in
other cities along the border with the United States. In the rest of the country, the changes are less evident and
the gap in access to the latest technologies continues to challenge the country’s public policy.  ese diff erences
stem from the fact that Mexico City, Monterrey, and Guadalajara are the three richest and most developed
cities in the country, far ahead of the rest of the country. Public service television, transmitted by analog
signal, remains marginal because it reaches only 47 percent of all households compared with private television
stations, which reach 98 percent of households and achieve the highest ratings for their news programs.
By mid-2009, some 7.4 million households—26.8 percent—were equipped with a computer.  is gure
represented a year-on-year increase of 4.7 percent. Some 5.1 million of these computer-equipped households
had an internet connection that year, which was still a low fi gure in terms of the percentage of total households.
e internet connection saw an increase of 36.4 percent in 2009 over 2008. A majority of the internet-
connected households had broadband access in 2009.
In mid-2009, Mexico numbered 27.2 million internet users, or just over 25 percent of the population, and
34.7 million computer users, or just over 32 percent of the population. Some 70 percent of both these groups
were aged 12–34. Pay-TV transmitted terrestrially and via cable and satellite had a combined total of 8.26
million subscribers at the end of 2009, giving a combined penetration of 28.5 percent of households. In
2009, 96.3 percent of households had at least one TV set, 76.6 percent owned a DVD player and 25 percent
had a video-player.11
11. IBOPE (Institute of Public Opinion and Statistics, Brazil, Instituto Brasileiro de Opinião Pública e Estatística) AGB Mexico, “2009–2010 Annual
Report, Audiences and Media in Mexico,” February 2010, p. 135. (In Mexico, IBOPE’s complete name is IBOPE AGB México, an international
branch of Nielsen Media Research.)
MAPPING DIGITAL MEDIA MEXICO16
e penetration of diverse technologies has to some extent modifi ed the consumption habits among people
in the sense that they have diversifi ed the ways through which they consume media content (see Figure 5).
For example, mobile devices are reshaping the manner in which audiovisual content is consumed. However,
television has remained dominant and indeed, this dominance is increasing. In 2005, the average TV viewing
time per household was 527 minutes a day. By 2009, it had increased by 36 minutes.  e TV viewing time
per head rose from 265 minutes to 281 minutes over the same period.
Figure 5.
Consumption of media,* 2009
Note: * On an average weekday.
Source: IBOPE AGB Mexico.
Although the printed press was aff ected by the expansion of digital media, the impact was not major.  e weekly
number of readers of newspapers and magazines in Mexico City, Guadalajara, and Monterrey fell marginally
from 33 percent to 32 percent of the population between 2005 and 2009. While the number of readers of
newspapers decreased, magazines showed a recovery in the same cities, albeit a variable one (see Figure 6).
Figure 6.
Magazine readership in the major cities (Mexico City, Guadalajara, Monterrey),
aggregate fi gure, 2005–2009
Source: IBOPE AGB Mexico.
80.00%
60.00%
40.00%
20.00%
0.00%
66.50%
22.50% 20%
9% 7% 4.50% 2.50% 1%
Free-t-air TV watching
Paid-TV watching
Radio listening
Internet usage
Newspaper reading
Books reading
Magazine reading
Cinema going
31%
32%
33%
34%
35%
36%
37%
38%
39%
40%
41%
2005 2006 2007 2008 2009
17OPEN SOCIETY MEDIA PROGRAM 2011
In general, the consumption of traditional media, particularly television, rose compared with the time
dedicated to other media such as the internet. However, an increasing number of Mexicans have begun
to use the internet in recent years. Between 2005 and 2009, the proportion of internet users rose from 26
percent to 42 percent of the total population. Growth was much higher among youths of 16–25 years of age.
(Internet use covers here all places of internet connection, including homes, workplace, school, cybercafés,
public libraries, and digital community centers.)12
e shifts in consumption have been minimal in the digital transition of broadcast media.  is is refl ected in the
acquisition of digital equipment. Digital terrestrial television (DTT) was launched in 2006.  ree years later, 63
channels out of 729 were transmitting digitally. Analog switch-off was scheduled for 2021 by the administration
of President Vicente Fox (2001–2006), but in September 2010, the Calderón administration (2007–2012)
changed that date to 2015 in a move aimed at generating more competition, as the administration put it (see
section 7). In February 2011, the administrations decision was annulled by the Supreme Court of Justice, which
found that the adoption of such a decision was unconstitutional as this is COFETELs remit.
Only 1.6 million households, representing 6 percent of the total, could receive digital TV in 2009, according
to INEGI. In 2009, some 22.8 million out of 28.1 million households still had an analog TV set.  is means
that only some 13.6 percent of TV households had a digital set. Only 46.6 percent of digital TV households
could receive digital television free-to-air programming.  e remainder consumed pay-TV.13
1.2.2 Availability of a Diverse Range of News Sources
With internet penetration still at a low level, most Mexicans are still oriented towards traditional media as
their principal sources of news (see Figure 7).
Figure 7.
Main sources of news and information among non-internet users, 2008
Source: Center of the Digital Future in the Annenberg School of Communication at the University of California and the Monter-
rey Technological Institute in Mexico, 2008.14
12. Between 2001 and 2006, the Fox administration adopted a public policy through which it created digital community centers in all municipali-
ties, with a special emphasis on places inhabited by people with low incomes. In January 2010, there were 6,970 such digital centers. See http://
www.mediatelecom.com.mx/ (accessed 10 January 2011).
13. COFETEL, “1.6 million households have the potential to receive DTT service,” press release, 25 January 2010.
14.  is study was performed by the Center of the Digital Future in the Annenberg School of Communication at the University of California and
the Monterrey Technological Institute in Mexico.  e research was carried out on a national level on populations of over 50,000 inhabitants
(aged 12–70), in October and November 2008.
0%
10%
20%
30%
40%
50%
60%
70%
Radio Periodicals Television Mobile phones
68% 65% 64%
50%
MAPPING DIGITAL MEDIA MEXICO18
However, once they start using the internet, Mexicans make this their main source of news and information
(see Figure 8). Users and non-users both mentioned cellular telephones as an information medium, at 54
percent and 50 percent respectively.
Figure 8.
Main sources of news and information among internet users, 2008
Source: Center of the Digital Future in the Annenberg School of Communication at the University of California and the Monter-
rey Technological Institute in Mexico, 2008.15
Another study, by Millward Brown Mexico, confi rmed that the number of internet users who read the news
online increased from 33 percent in 2008 to 54 percent in 2009. However, 25 percent of Mexicans still
watched television for news and information in both years. In response to the statement “it keeps me up to
date,” those surveyed identifi ed the internet in 81 percent of responses, followed by TV at 45 percent, radio at
30 percent, magazines at 25 percent, and newspapers at 31 percent.16 e study concluded that internet users
perform a greater number of activities online. In 2008, they performed an average of three activities online,
increasing in 2009 to almost eight.  ese activities included reading the news online.
1.3 News Providers
1.3.1 Leading Sources of News
1.3.1.1 Television
An overwhelming proportion of Mexicans (95.5 percent) use television to follow current events.17 e most
trusted people-meter company operating in Mexico, which has measured television ratings since 1991, is
Brazil’s Institute of Public Opinion and Statistics (Instituto Brasileiro de Opinião Pública e Estatística, IBOPE).
0%
20%
40%
60%
80%
Internet Periodicals Television Radio Mobile phones
78%
70%
62% 60%
54%
15.  is study was performed by the Center of the Digital Future in the Annenberg School of Communication at the University of California and
the Monterrey Technological Institute in Mexico.  e research was carried out on a national level on populations of over 50,000 inhabitants
(aged 12–70), in October and November 2008.
16. Millward Brown Mexico, “Study on digital media consumption in Mexico,” November 2009, p. 34. México: Millward Brown.
17. National Council for Culture and the Arts (Consejo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes, CONACULTA), “National Survey of Practices and
Consumption (2004).” Mexico D.F.: CONACULTA.
19OPEN SOCIETY MEDIA PROGRAM 2011
In 2005, households watched an average of 508 minutes of television a day, while the viewing time per person
was 187 minutes a day. In prime time (7–11 p.m.), television attracts its highest maximum daily audience,
reaching an average of 70 percent of TV households. Five years ago, newscasts topped the preferences of
viewers, followed by soap operas and Mexican fi lms. Approximately two-thirds of those who turn on the
television do it specifi cally to watch a program that they like, some 28 percent to fi nd out what is going on,
and some 3 percent not to feel lonely. (See Figure 9.)
Figure 9.
Top TV programming preferences among Mexicans, 2004
Source: National Council for the Culture and Arts (Consejo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes, CONACULTA18) 2004.
e main programs on nationwide generalist TV in 2005, in terms of airtime, were tele-shopping, magazines,
and fi lms. News accounted for less than 7 percent of the total airtime on these stations combined. (See
Figure 10.)
Figure 10.
Breakdown of airtime on nationwide, generalist TV stations, 2010
Source: CONACULTA, 2010.
18. Created in 1988, CONACULTA is a government agency in charge of museums and monuments, promotion of arts and management of the
country’s archives.
0%
10%
20%
30%
40%
50%
Newscasts Soap
operas Mexican
films Sports Foreign
films
49.50%
39.20%
24,40% 24.30% 22.50%
Marketing 25%Other 23%
News 7%
Soap operas 8%
Cartoons 8%
Magazines 15%
Films 14%
MAPPING DIGITAL MEDIA MEXICO20
Mexicans watch news on TV in three main tranches: early morning, then from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. and the
evening news from 10 pm to 11 pm.  e viewers of newscasts are 57 percent women. It is the program that
attracts the highest number of adults: two out of every three television viewers who watch news are older
than 30 years old. In recent years, this type of programming has totaled approximately 261 hours a month,
of which the regular television viewer watched an average of nine hours a month.
1.3.1.2 Radio
Listening time for the radio grew by 7.6 percent from 202 minutes per head in 2008 to 219 minutes per
head the following year. On average, 10 million people in the Mexico City Valley, the main radio market in
the country, listen to radio on a typical day. Most of them tune in to FM, with only 22 percent listening to
stations on AM frequencies. News holds a strong position in listener preferences after pop music. Talk-radio
continues to be popular, commanding one-fi fth of the total audience in Mexico City Valley.  e largest
proportion of listeners of radio news programs in Mexico City is concentrated on the morning shows, followed
by night-time news.  e heavy radio listeners in the Valley dedicate almost the same time to morning shows
as to night-time ones.  e main diff erence is in the listening location. While morning shows are listened to
at home, night-time shows are listened to mainly while driving or at work.  e radio airtime devoted to news
grew by 19 percent between 2009 and 2010, climbing two places in the program ranks.19 (See Table 5.)
Table 5.
Radio news programs with the highest ratings, February 2010
Rank Name Issuer Rating20
1 Noticias MVS—Carmen Aristegui MVS Noticias 0.499
2 Óscar Mario Beteta en Cadena Nacional Radio Fórmula FM 0.407
3 Fórmula Detrás de la Noticia—Ricardo Rocha Radio Fórmula FM 0.368
4 Panorama Informativo—Alejandro Cacho 88.9 Noticias 0.334
5 Enfoque—Leonardo Curzio Stereo Cien FM 0.326
6 Reporte 98.5—Martín Espinoza Reporte 98.5 0.325
7 La Red de Radio Red—Sergio Sarmiento Radio Red 0.285
8 Imagen Informativa—Pedro Ferriz Imagen Informativa 0.248
9 Hoy por Hoy—Carlos Puig W Radio FM 0.17
10 Antena Radio—Mario Campos Horizonte 0.069
Source: Prepared in-house based on data from INRA, 2010.
19. IBOPE AGB, “Annual report 2009–2010 Audiences and Media in Mexico,” February 2010.
20.  e percentage of the total TV or radio households in a market tuned in to a channel for a certain period. Ratings are calculated as a percentage
of the total number of TV or radio households, whether they are turned on or not. Usually, ratings are calculated for programs, episodes, but
also for entire networks. Another measurement of broadcast audience is the share, which is the percentage of TV households in use tuned in to
a certain program.
21OPEN SOCIETY MEDIA PROGRAM 2011
1.3.1.3 Print media
Because of geographical coverage and penetration, and socio-economic factors, Mexico has no authentic
nationwide press. Frequently, newspapers from the capital present themselves as such, but they lack an
authentic presence throughout the country. Media companies infl ate their circulations to attract readers and,
especially, advertisers.  us, there are newspapers with broad circulations, low readership, and solid levels
of advertising revenue. As Delarbre indicates, Mexico is a country of many newspapers but few readers.21
e country also lacks a comprehensive and reliable registry of print media.  e most complete database is
the National Registry of Print Media (Padrón Nacional de Medios Impresos, PNMI) of the Ministry of the
Interior.  is inventory was created in 2003 with the aim of building an instrument that would allow the
federal government to assign advertising contracts, transparently (which still has not happened), based on
the circulation, coverage, and reader profi le of each publication. In spite of being the most complete tool, the
PNMI does not include all the publications in the country (the registry is voluntary) and is not fully updated.
Nevertheless, given that the print media seek to attract offi cial advertising and, to do so, registration in the
PNMI is mandatory, it does include the main print media.
According to the PNMI, there are 823 publications, including 279 daily newspapers with an average combined
daily circulation of 6.16 million, i.e. 57.75 copies per 1,000 people.22 As a result of centralization, the Federal
District is the area where most newspapers are published, including the fi ve largest daily newspapers.  ere are 32
daily newspapers in the Federal District, which translates into 266.21 copies per 1,000 people. (See Figure 11.)
e tabloid daily with the highest circulation is La Prensa, with a circulation of over 244,200 copies. It is
owned by the Mexican Publishing Organization (Organización Editorial Mexicana, OEM).  e two free
tabloids lack their own reporters and only reprint stories from Notimex, the offi cial Mexican newswire.23
Figure 11.
Tabloid daily newspapers with the highest circulations, 2010
Note: * El Metro and Publimetro are free-of-charge dailies.
Source: PNMI.
21. R. Trejo Delarbre, Poderes Salvajes. Mediocracia sin contrapesos (Wild Powers, Mediocracy without Counterbalances), Cal y Arena, Mexico, 2005, p. 206.
22. Another source, the private researcher Media Verifi cation Institute, states that a total of 10.1 million copies of daily newspapers are distributed
daily in Mexico, which would be 95 copies per 1,000 people.
23. Sports tabloid dailies are very popular.  e sports tabloid daily with the highest circulation is Ovaciones, with over 148,000 copies. It is followed
by Esto, also from OEM, with a circulation of more than 139,000. In third place is Record from the Notmusa group, with a circulation of some
115,000.  e fourth largest sports daily is Estadio, with a circulation of 87,000.  ese four newspapers are also published in the capital city.
0
50,000
100,000
150,000
200,000
250,000
La Prensa El Metro* Más por
más
Publimetro*El Universal
Gráfico
244,200
195,102
150,000 138,291
104,223
MAPPING DIGITAL MEDIA MEXICO22
Among the serious or general press, the daily Reforma has the largest paid circulation, of some 146,300
copies. Reforma and El Norte are owned by Grup Reforma. Despite its high circulation, Rumbo de México
is believed by media observers to have a low readership. Milenio Diario is distributed only in the Federal
District. El Financiero is a niche daily specializing in business reporting.24 (See Figure 12.)
Figure 12.
Serious daily newspapers with the highest circulations, 2010
Source: PNMI.
Over the last fi ve years there have been few changes in the ranking of the most popular sources of news, the
main explanation being that usage of the internet and new technologies in general remains low. Nevertheless,
the amount of news and information on new platforms has steadily increased, mainly through the social
networks.
1.3.2 Television News Programs
Some of the stations that devote more airtime to news are TV Azteca’s Channel 13 where newscasts ranked
third with 16 percent of the total airtime in 2010, and Televisa’s Channel 2 where news accounted for 14
percent of the channel’s total airtime in 2010. In contrast, on Channel 7 of TV Azteca, newscasts ranked only
seventh with a mere 2 percent of total broadcast time in 2010. Between 2005 and 2010, the pattern of regular
heavy consumption of TV news has not changed markedly. (See Table 6.)
0
50,000
100,000
150,000
200,000
250,000
La Prensa
Reforma
El Norte
El Financiero
El Universal
La Jornada
Rumbo de México
Milenio Diario
244,200
143,609 142,569
119,222 117,863 107,666
85,500 83,883
24.  e most popular topics in the daily newspapers are, in order: sports, crime news, local news, show-biz, and political news.
23OPEN SOCIETY MEDIA PROGRAM 2011
Table 6.
TV news programs with the highest ratings, January 2010
Rank Name Channel Rating
1 Noticiero con Joaquín López-Dóriga Channel 2 of Televisa 15.9
2 Noticiero con Enrique Acevedo Channel 9 of Televisa 14.1
3 Noticiero con Santos Mondragón Channel 9 of Televisa 13.4
4 Hechos Noche Channel 13 of TV Azteca 12.5
5 Noticiero con Alejandro Cacho Channel 9 of Televisa 12.4
6 Primero Noticias Channel 2 of Televisa 10.6
7 Las noticias por Adela Channel 9 of Televisa 9.9
8 Info 7 noche Channel 7 of TV Azteca 9.5
9 Noticiero con Lolita Ayala Channel 2 of Televisa 9.3
10 Hechos Channel 13 of TV Azteca 9.1
11 Buenas noches con Edith Serrano Channel 13 of TV Azteca 9.1
12 A las tres Channel 4 of Televisa 9
13 Info 7 tarde Channel 7 of TV Azteca 4.5
14 Avance informative Channel 11 of IPN 3.3
15 15 minutes Channel 11 of IPN 3.1
16 Noticias con Adriana Pérez Cañedo Channel 11 of IPN 3.1
17 Noticias con Adriana Pérez Cañedo (rep.) Channel 11 of IPN 2.1
18 Informativo 40 Proyecto 40 1.8
19 Pedro Ferriz Cadena Tres 0.9
20 Ventana 22 (repeat) Channel 22 0.6
21 Ventana 22 Channel 22 0.6
Source: Prepared in-house based on data from IBOPE AGB, 2010.25
At the moment, because TV digital migration is a slow process, there has been no loss of audiences for news
consumption from analog TV stations to digital ones.
1.3.3 Impact of Digital Media on Good-quality News
ere have been no major changes in the news off ered by digital media in the past fi ve years. However, there
are positive examples of good-quality media that have started their own online editions, but they still remain
marginal in terms of audience share. Nevertheless, such ventures help enrich the public sphere and encourage
mainstream media to care more about the quality of their news output. At the same time, new media off ered
25. IBOPE AGB, “Ratings TV,” January 2010, available at http://www.terra.com.mx/revistaneo/articulo/896661/Ratings+TV+IBOPE+AGB.htm
(accessed 1 August 2010).
MAPPING DIGITAL MEDIA MEXICO24
audiences more sources of news than before.  e best such example is the online multimedia news portal
reporteindigo.com.
According to Alexa, eluniversal.com.mx is the most consulted online newspaper in Mexico; it is ranked 20th
of the 100 most visited sites. In position 65 is the milenio.com news site, while positions 67 and 87 are held
by elnorte.com and reforma.com, respectively. In 98th place are the online editions of OEM (oem.com.mx),
a newspaper chain with more than 70 titles throughout the country.
Among the main online activities as far as media content is concerned, reading newspapers and listening
to the radio are the most popular. On average, the Mexican web surfer connects for 2.54 hours a day. (See
Figure 13.)
Figure 13.
Main media online activities among internet users, 2009
Source: Mexican Internet Association (Asociación Mexicana de Internet, AMIPCI), “Habitos de los usuarios de internet en México”
(Habits of Internet Users in Mexico), 2009, available at http://www.amipci.org.mx/estudios/temp/RESUMENEJECU-
TIVOEstudioAMIPCI2009UsuariosdeinternetFINAL-0334725001245691260OB.pdf (accessed 10 August 2010).
In general, the main sources of news and information in traditional media have remained stable. In Mexico,
95.5 percent of the population watches television, compared with 87.3 percent that listens to the radio and
barely 16.1 percent that reads a newspaper.  ere are social and economic reasons behind these trends, such
as lack of access to broadband internet in poor areas where it is easier and more aff ordable to consume news
through free-to-air analog television (see section 1). According to the annual survey of media consumption by
Reforma newspaper, in the case of television, news programs are the preferred genre among Mexicans, both
on TV (49.5 percent) and radio (48.6 percent).
1.4 Assessments
e interactivity off ered by the internet is attractive for many consumers of news because it off ers users the
possibility to deepen and diversify their information, comparing it with a range of views and coverage by
various media. However, in Mexico, low access to the internet because of high connection tariff s and limited
0%
5%
10%
15%
20%
25%
Newspaper
reading
Radio
listening
TV
watching
Magazine
reading
22%
11%
8%
6%
25OPEN SOCIETY MEDIA PROGRAM 2011
telecoms infrastructure, which prevents deployment of networks of wireless connection hotspots in the open,
is a serious obstacle to the growth of news consumption on these new platforms (see sections 5 and 7). At the
same time, digital literacy is still poor.  e public lacks education in media consumption, particularly news,
on the internet.  ese factors have all impeded higher migration of news consumers to new media.
e new communications technologies and the internet have emerged as an opportunity to diversify the
news supply.  e decreasing costs of these technologies compared with investment in traditional media, the
development of digital skills, and the increase in software distribution make it possible for any individual
with interest and basic knowledge to become a producer of information, albeit not at the level of quality
expected from a professional media outlet.
MAPPING DIGITAL MEDIA MEXICO26
2. Digital Media and Public or
State-Administered Broadcasters
2.1 Public Service and State Institutions
2.1.1 Overview of Public Service Media; News and Current Affairs Output
Public service television is characterized by the following features:
limited coverage: the most important public service channel, Once TV, reaches only 47 percent of all
households;
editorial interference by the federal and state governments;26
low budgets compared with the fi nancial resources of private television companies: in 2009, the two
nationwide public service TV channels, Once TV and Channel 22, received a combined US$60 million
from the federal government (for comparison, Televisa television has an annual budget worth some US$1
billion);27
low nationwide ratings: it is estimated by IBOPE and Media Data that Once TV and Channel 22
command a mere 1.7 percent and 1.1 percent of the nationwide audience share, respectively;
elitist programming, focussed on traditional public service strands, with a heavy emphasis on fi ne arts
and high culture (some childrens programs produced by Once TV and Channel 22 have received
international awards).28
26.  e directors of Canal 22 and Once TV, operated by the federal government, are chosen personally by the president of the republic.  e direc-
tors of state radio and television stations are, in most cases, appointed by the state governors.  is is one mechanism by which the public service
media are controlled by the state.
27.  is is the fi gure just for Televisa’s TV operations.  e entire group’s turnover is much higher. In 2007, it reached US$3.81 billion (Observatoire
Européen de L’Audiovisuel, Annuaire, 2008: 2).
28. G. Orozco and F. Hernández, “Usos públicos de la televisión en México” (Public uses of television in Mexico), in B. Indrajit and S. Kalinga,
Radiotelevisión de servicio público: Un manual de mejores práctica (Public service radio-television. A handbook of best practices), UNESCO, San
José, Costa Rica, 2006; P. Ortega, La Otra Televisión. Por qué no tenemos televisión pública, ( e Other Television. Why we do not have public
television), Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana, Mexico, DF, 2005; F. Toussaint, Directorio de la televisiones públicas en México (Directory of
public televisions in Mexico), Juan Pablos-FCPyS, Mexico, DF, 2010 (hereafter Toussaint, Directorio).
27OPEN SOCIETY MEDIA PROGRAM 2011
ere are 56 public service radio and television stations in total, grouped in the Network of Educational and
Cultural Radio Broadcasters (Red de Radiodiofusoras y Televisoras Educativas y Culturales).  is organization
fosters collaboration and communication, primarily in the distribution and purchase of programs. For
example, they buy programs jointly to obtain better deals.
Public service media are diverse in so far as their licenses are held by a wide array of entities such as the federal
government, state governments, and institutions, and public and private universities.  ese outlets are largely
dependent on these institutions. In total, the public service network consists of 450 radio and television
channels with a potential reach of 25 million listeners and viewers across all 31 states and one Federal District.
e two largest public service channels are Once TV,29 whose license is held by the National Polytechnic
Institute (Instituto Politécnico Nacional, IPN),30 and Canal 22, whose license is held by the Ministry of
Education and CONACULTA.
Both channels are primarily fi nanced from the federal budget. Canal 22 alone is allowed through legislation
to sell advertising during certain programs.31 Once TV also seeks additional funds from public and private
companies in the form of sponsorship and raises money from sales of its programs abroad.  e budgets of
Canal Once and Canal 22 were reduced in 2010 as a result of the economic crisis. (See Table 7.)
Table 7.
Budgets of Once TV and Canal 22, 2009–2010
2009 2010
MXN (Mexican pesos) million US$ million MXN million US$ million
Once TV 532.4 41.0 466.0 36.0
Canal 22 224.2 17.0 220.3 16.5
Source: Secretariat of Finance and Public Credit (Secretaría de Hacienda y Crétido Público, SHCP), 2010.
Since the early 1990s, Once TV has signifi cantly and continuously increased its program output. Today
it produces approximately 60 percent of its total programming in-house.  e stations general director for
the period 2008–2012, Fernando Sariñana Márquez, said in March 2009 that his goal was to increase the
stations share of in-house production to 74.3 percent in 2010.32
29. Although Once TV has the status of a nationwide broadcaster, its footprint reaches only 27 percent of viewers due to a shortage of relay stations.
Once TV has 14 local stations.
30.  e IPN is Mexico’s second-largest public higher-education institution, funded from the federal budget.
31.  e station is restricted to four minutes of commercial breaks every half hour.
32. A.C. Bércenas, “Canal Once renueva programación” (Once TV renews its programming), La Jornada, 18 March 2009.
MAPPING DIGITAL MEDIA MEXICO28
Once TV’s programming is divided into seven genre strands, including drama, youth and children
programming, and news.  e station’s primetime programming (8–11 p.m.) usually gains between two and
four national rating points.33 Once TV’s political and cultural debate programs are distinguished for their
plurality of views and critical stance on national and international aff airs. Once TV is recognized by the
public as a leader in foreign news coverage, in respect of time and depth.
Canal 22’s in-house production currently accounts for 49 percent of its output. It has not produced newscasts
or political debate programs since its establishment in 1990. Nonetheless, under the management of the
famous novelist Jorge Volpi, who was appointed as general director in 2007 and whose mandate is expected
to end in 2012, the station has produced a few programs with good-quality, balanced, and objective political
content. Under Volpi, the schedule was restructured, with signifi cant airtime devoted to youth programs. At
the same time, a cultural news agency operated by Canal 22 was formed to provide news to other culture-
focused TV stations. Volpi’s management also made it possible for independent producers to apply for
funding from Canal 22 to produce programs. Under him, the station has increasingly purchased programs
from foreign broadcasters such as the BBC and Spanish Television (Television Española, TVE).
e main historic weakness in the output of both Once TV and Canal 22 is their undue preference for
high culture in their program strategies and the news and information services.  ere is a discrepancy in the
amount of time devoted to programs on fi ne arts such as opera and classical music, literature, and theatre
compared with programs on Mexicos contemporary native and popular cultures such as popular music
(ranchera, salsa, cumbia, etc.), documentaries about various ethnic and urban groups in Mexico or programs
created by such groups. Canal 22, for example, has aired many programs purchased from the German public
service broadcaster ARD (Consortium of public-law broadcasting institutions of the Federal Republic of
Germany, Arbeitsgemeinschaft der öff entlich-rechtlichen Rundfunkanstalten der Bundesrepublik Deutschland) on
topics such as the history of the German language. While such programs are certainly of interest and value,
Canal 22 has attended less to Mexican national and cultural needs and interests.
Nevertheless, Canal Once has plural opinion programs that off er critical perspectives on relevant political,
economic, and social issues.
2.1.2 Digitization and Services
Once TV streams its international programming on its website,34 and via satellite in the Americas. Since
2009, Canal 22 has run its own channel on the internet video-sharing website YouTube, where it off ers
15 of its own series, including Defensor del televidente (Defending the viewer), La dichosa palabra (Happy
word), Reverso ( e reverse), Tocando Tierra (Touching the earth), La oveja electrónica ( e electronic sheep),
Argenmex (Argenmex), and Los alimentos terrenales (Earthly foods).35 Also since 2009, Once TV has allowed
33. IBOPE AGB calculates each rating point at 500,000 viewers.  is translates into an average of 1–2 million viewers for Once TV’s primetime
programming. In contrast, some 15 million viewers tune in to the most popular programs on commercial television such as soap operas broad-
cast by Televisa (around 30 rating points).
34.  e stream is available at http://148.204.199.85/tx/ (accessed 7 January 2011).
29OPEN SOCIETY MEDIA PROGRAM 2011
the download of its 10 most popular programs from its website36 and uploaded another fi ve popular programs
on YouTube.37 Other than these scattered initiatives, digitization has not yet led the public service media to
directly increase the number of their services.
2.1.3 Government Support
e most recent launches of public service channels were Canal del Congreso (Congress Channel) in 2000,
Canal del Poder Judicial (Judiciary Power Channel) in 2006, and the National Autonomous University
of Mexico channel known as TVUNAM (Televisión de la Universidad Autónoma de México) in 2005.38
ese stations are to start airing digitally in 2012. TVUNAM and Canal del Congreso estimate that so far,
they have digitized 60 percent of their equipment. Nevertheless, they need increased funding to be able to
transmit fully in digital.39
Despite these launches, government support for public service media remains thin.  e cuts in the budgets
of Once TV and Canal 22 hindered them from purchasing digital equipment needed for a smooth digital
switch-over in 2010–2012. At the same time, these cuts prevented public service media from investing in
increasing their footprint. Nevertheless, the Calderón administration promised to help Canal Once to reach
nationwide coverage by the end of its current mandate.  ey are also reportedly ready to provide the same
help for Channel 22.  ese two mainstream stations have almost fi nalized the process of digitizing their
equipment.
2.1.4 Public Service Media and Digital Switch-over
e majority of the minor public service stations operate with basic broadcast equipment. Most of them
have inadequate budgets and their staff lack training in handling digital equipment.  e transition to
digital broadcasting is therefore problematic.  ey wholly lack plans for changing broadcast production and
distribution technology.40 e small public service stations are totally unprepared to purchase and use digital
equipment. Policies on digitization are not expected to boost the role of the small public service stations.
Moreover, their low budgets do not help them to increase their coverage and reach during the transition.
35.  e Canal 22 YouTube website is available at http://www.youtube.com/canal22 (accessed 7 January 2011).
36.  ese programs are: Primer Plano (Foreground), Dinero y Poder (Money and power), Escuela para Padres (School for fathers), Espiral (Spiral),
Omnibus (Omnibus), Conversando con Patricia Pacheco (Chatting with Patricia Pacheco), México diferente (Another Mexico), La ciudad de todos
( e city for all), Toros y toreros (Bulls and bullfi ghters), and ¿Quién dijo yo? (Who says I?).
37.  ese programmes are: Bienes raíces (Good roots), Aquí nos toco vivir (Here we have to live), Central Once (Central 11), XY, and D’Todo con
Pamela Correa (A Lot of  ings with Pamela Correa), available at http://www.youtube.com/CanalOnceIPN (accessed 10 January 2011).  ese
programs are educational programs, popular music clips, debates, interviews, and drama series.
38.  ese launches were seen by independent experts as a positive development and examples of political pluralism and cultural diversity. Unfortu-
nately, these channels are transmitted solely via satellite and cable. Potentially, they can reach only 27 percent of households.
39. Gabriel Sosa, personal interviews with the directors of Congress Channel, Leticia Salas Torres, and TVUNAM, Ernesto Velazquez.
40. Toussaint, Directorio.
MAPPING DIGITAL MEDIA MEXICO30
Both Once TV and Canal 22 are preparing for digital switch-over. Once TV has in place a digitization plan
focused on renewing its equipment. Once TV plans to launch digital broadcasting tests on the frequency
assigned to the channel by the Ministry of Communications and Transport (Secretaría de Comunicaciones y
Transportes, SCT), until march of 2011. Canal 22 is performing digital broadcasting tests and also producing
some of its series and news programs in high-defi nition (HD) resolution. On top of that, a 2009 initiative
by Canal 22 called “Moving Toward a Digital Society” aims to inform viewers about the use of digital
equipment. In this document, Volpi has outlined the channel’s goal to digitize its equipment in 2010.41 At
this time of writing, however, it has not happened. If it succeeds, Canal 22 will become the fi rst public service
channel in Mexico to broadcast in digital format.  e completion of switch-over for this channel is set for
the year 2012.
2.2 Public Service Provision
2.2.1 Perception of Public Service Media
Public service broadcasting has never been a priority for Mexicos political ruling class. Nevertheless, civil
society organizations, the country’s intelligentsia, and academia, in particular, have been trying over the past
ve years to push public service media on to the agendas of Congress and various political parties.  ey see
this as a step to foster democracy and cultural diversity in the media. One theatre of this advocacy eff ort has
been the debate over the new Act on broadcasting and telecoms. (See section 7.)
e cuts in the budgets of Once TV and Canal 22 in 2010, prompted by the economic crisis, showed that
public service media are not a political priority.
On the other hand, a positive development that strengthens the accountability of the public service media
was the 2007 launch of a program that showcases viewers’ opinions and comments on Canal 22. As well as
suggesting how to improve its output, the program bolsters participation and citizenship.42 After its launch,
state-based public networks adopted similar mechanisms of inclusion and accountability.
In the case of the Congress Channel, a survey commissioned from a private consultancy found that 50.7
percent of the respondents considered the channel’s output to be important for the political culture of the
country. At the same time, nine out of 10 respondents in the survey said that the channel had to exist to
satisfy this need.43
41. At the beginning of 2009, Canal 22 reported digitization of 84 percent of its equipment.
42.  e 30-minute program Defensor del Televidente (Defending the Viewer), broadcast on Canal 22 since 2007 every Tuesday at 9 p.m., hosts inter-
views with media experts, academics and professionals on issues related to the coverage and work of Canal 22 and the public service network.  e
program also presents viewers’ opinions.  e program’s website facilitates further interaction: http://www.defensor.canal22.org.mx/ (accessed 7
June 2010).
43. 2 Informe Anual de activiaddes del Canal del Congreso [Annual report of Channel of Congress, May 2008–April 2009, available at http://
www.canaldelcongreso.gob.mx/nueva_imagen/seccion.php?id=13 (accessed 10 January 2011).
31OPEN SOCIETY MEDIA PROGRAM 2011
A study on perceptions by Channel 22 found that audiences recognize the importance of the public service
mission as a distributor of high culture with output such as classical music concerts, literature, fi ne arts,
science, and philosophical debates.  e study also found that private television is, according to public
opinion, intended to entertain audiences through low-quality programs.44
2.2.2 Public Service Provision in Commercial Media
ere are no public service obligations on commercial media. Digitization has not triggered any change in this
respect. In fact, one of the major concerns of various civil society groups that advocate for the amendment of
the Federal Act on Radio and Television is to introduce public service obligations for commercial broadcasters.
e organizations articulating these demands have built an alliance called the National Front for a New Media
Act (Frente Nacional por una Nueva Ley de Medios), whose members include the Mexican Association for the
Right to Information (Asociación Mexicana de Derecho a la Información, AMEDI), the National Center of
Social Communication (Centro Nacional de Comunicación Social, CENCOS) and the Mexican Association
of Communication Researchers (Asociación Mexicana de Investigadores de la Comunicación, AMIC).  e main
principles these organizations are fi ghting for is to force commercial media to fulfi ll their social responsibility
role in terms of information plurality and the right of reply.
2.3 Assessments
Given the government’s lack of interest, to date, in taking the opportunity of digitization to reshape Mexico’s
communications system by increasing diversity, commercial broadcast media stand to gain most from the
switch-over process.  ose with the most to lose are small, local broadcasters that ensure a certain degree
of cultural diversity. In the absence of policies to support the purchase of equipment to make the digital
transition, they are in danger of disappearing.
e importance of public service provision in the media has not been a central concern for the political
establishment. Although it has remained marginal in popularity, public service in the media over the last 16
years has gained more presence in the democratization of the political system and of society. Along these lines,
it has to be noted that audiences have more possibility than ever to understand better the role of the public
service media. Digitization could help this process to advance in that direction, but the outcome depends
entirely on the political will of the government in offi ce.
us, public service in the media has constantly emerged as a condition and part of the democratization of
the public sphere and of the Mexican communications system, which have to date been controlled by the
logic of the market and private interests, mainly those of Televisa and TV Azteca.  e Television and Radio
Act does not include public service provision and only vaguely alludes to the idea of public interest in the
media.
44. André Dorce, “Medios públicos, audiencias y cambio digital” (Public Media, Audiences and Digital Change), 2011, mimeo, in publication.
MAPPING DIGITAL MEDIA MEXICO32
3. Digital Media and Society
3.1 User-Generated Content (UGC)
3.1.1 UGC Overview
E-mailing, instant messaging, chatting, video, photo-sharing, and blogging were the most popular types of
UGC among the main social activities online in 2009. (See Figure 14.)
Figure 14.
Most popular online activities in 2009 (% of respondents with multiple-choice answers)
Source: AMIPCI,45 “Habits of Internet Users in Mexico” (Habitos de los usuarios de internet en México) 2009, available at
http://www.amipci.org.mx/estudios/temp/RESUMENEJECUTIVOEstudioAMIPCI2009UsuariosdeinternetFINAL-
0334725001245691260OB.pdf (accessed 19 February 2011).
0%
10%
20%
30%
40%
50%
60%
70%
80% 75%
59%
45% 41%
31%
24% 20%
12%
Emailing
Instant messaging
Chatting
Video/photo sharing
Participation in virtual communities, social
networks or visits of own websites
Sending e-postcards
Blogging/personal logbooks
Online dating
45  e survey was carried out among 12,300 respondents aged 12–64, from 28 cities with more than 500,000 inhabitants each.
33OPEN SOCIETY MEDIA PROGRAM 2011
Another study, the World Internet Project,46 which aimed to create a typology of internet users by analyzing
how and what Mexicans use the internet for, confi rmed to a large extent AMIPCI’s fi ndings, showing that
the most popular UGC-related activities online are e-mailing, instant messaging, chatting, and blogging.  e
World Internet Project also found that news searches (not precisely defi ned) account for 78 percent of the
online activity in Mexico, more than downloads and listening to music (77 percent).
In March 2010, there were 15.5 million home and work internet users aged 15 and above, which was an
increase of 20 percent over the previous year, making the internet one of the fastest growing markets in the
country. Microsoft websites ranked among the top online properties by reach of the internet users (see Table 8).
Table 8.
Top internet websites by number of unique visitors, March 2010
Total unique visitors (’000)
March 2009 March 2010 Change (March 2009/March 2010) %
Total Internet : Total Audience 12,914 15,462 20
Microsoft Sites 11,084 14,268 29
Google Sites 10,738 14,218 32
Yahoo! Sites 7,311 9,003 23
Facebook.com 2,696 8,736 224
Wikimedia Foundation Sites 5,427 7,312 35
WordPress 3,606 5,222 45
MercadoLibre 6,154 5,044 –18
Batanga 4,508 4,975 10
Taringa.net 2,296 4,669 103
HI5.com 4,100 4,197 2
Source: Comscore Media Metrix, Panel-Only Data, 2010.
ere is no offi cial registry of UGC websites in Mexico. Some of the best known sites are described below
(see section 3.3.1). Among established media-embedded UGC platforms, the most important nationwide
newspaper online is eluniversal.com.mx, which is the 19th most popular website and the most popular
newspaper website in Mexico, with a share of the search traffi c, according to alexa.com, of 16.87 percent.
After social networks, news websites are the second most popular category. According to the multimedia
director of El Universal online, Ignacio Catalán, the newspaper receives 9.7 million visits monthly on its
website.  e most accessed section on the site is Reportero Ciudadano (Citizen Reporter), with 150,000
46. Fernando Gutiérrez, Estudio 2009 de hábitos y percepciones de los mexicanos sobre Internet y diversas tecnologías asociadas. (2009 Study of habits and
perceptions of Mexicans about the internet and diverse related technologies), World Internet Project México (WIP), 2009 Report, Monterrey
Technological Institute, Campus Estado México, with the cooperation of the Center of the Digital Future in the Annenberg School of Com-
munication, University of Southern California, available at http://wipmexico.org/index2.html (accessed 19 May 2010).
MAPPING DIGITAL MEDIA MEXICO34
monthly visits. Some 75,000 people are registered to be able to post comments on the website.  e newspaper
also has 30,500 followers on Twitter.
3.1.2 Social Networks
A survey by Comscore shows that the social network landscape is very fragmented. Social networks reach
64.6 percent of the internet audience, on a par with worldwide reach. But there is no clear leader in this
segment. Many of these networks overlap with photo-sharing sites such as Metrofl og and Fotolog, which are
actually the social networks with the highest usage.47
According to Comscore, the 10 most used social networks in Mexico in February 2009 were:
Hi5 (30.8%)
Metrofl og (30.1%)
Facebook (18.9%)
My Space (17.1%)
Sonico (11.8%)
Fotolog (8.6%)
Wamba (7.7%)
MSN (3.3%)
Slideshare (3.2%)
Deviantart (3.0%).
Comscore states that Mexicans have “a clear appetite for multimedia, especially in video.” Mexico lags behind
only Canada and the UK in the percentage of its population visiting YouTube. In 2009, YouTube reached
53.4 percent of all Mexican internet users.  e same study shows that Facebook has experienced phenomenal
growth in Mexico, almost doubling its global growth.  is situation is partly explained by the fact that
Facebook launched its Spanish-language version in 2008. Comscore’s 2010 study showed that Facebook
reached 8.7 million visitors, which is more than treble the number of visitors in the previous year.48
47. ComScore, “ e State of the Internet in Mexico”, 28 April 2009, available at http://www.comscore.com/Press_Events/Presentations_Whitepa-
pers/2009/ e_State_of_the_Internet_in_Mexico (accessed 20 May 2010).
48 ComScore, “Mexico’s Online Population Soars 20 Percent in Past Year,” press release, Mexico City, 6 May 2010, available at http://www.com-
score.com/Press_Events/Press_Releases/2010/5/Mexico_Online_Population_Soars_20_Percent/(language)/eng-US (accessed 14 June 2010).
35OPEN SOCIETY MEDIA PROGRAM 2011
3.1.3 News in Social Media
According to AMIPCI, Mexican internet users, when online, mostly send and receive e-mails and instant
messages, chat, watch, and download or upload videos and photos. Some 31 percent of users said that part
of the time on the internet is used to access, create or maintain community websites, social networks or
their own websites, and 20 percent use the internet to access or create or maintain blogs/personal logbooks.
e most consulted traditional media on the internet remain the websites of traditional newspapers with 17
percent of users’ preferences. Some 37 percent read online national news and 33 percent international news.
ere is no survey or solid indication on the usage of social networks and blogs as sources of news.
3.2 Digital Activism
3.2.1 Digital Platforms and Civil Society Activism
Social movements, NGOs, citizens, media, politicians, and activists are today taking advantage of the internet
in Mexico to express their demands or interests via social networks and Web 2.0 tools. Fernando Gutiérrez,
an internet expert, has said that many of the main stories published by established media in 2009 and 2010
were picked up from social networks such as Facebook, Hi5, and Twitter, and that people unfortunately do
not check this information.49 News generated through social networks fi ll reporting gaps in traditional media,
but those who report on these things are not equipped to do so as journalists, which presents in some cases
the risk of misinformation but in others gives voice to a cause or social movement.
Below is a brief description of some emblematic cases where digital platforms were used to communicate
warnings, protests, demands for justice, information, or in some cases to abuse power.
EZLN net war
Mexico has been a territory for grassroots activism and UGC.  e communication and social movement
generated by the Zapatista National Liberation Army (Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional, EZLN) on
the internet to steer the attention of the international community has become well-known worldwide.50 e
Zapatista rebels from the southern state of Chiapas, one of Mexicos poorest, rose up on New Year’s Day 1994
under the leadership of a man known as Subcomandante Marcos. e aim of the EZLN’s campaign was to
make known to the world the movement’s request to defend the rights of local people against the signature
by the Mexican government of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).  e movement was
described as the fi rst netwar, a guerrilla rebellion combining social struggle with an eff ective use of information
and communication technologies to spread their discourse and manifesto globally.
49. Interview with Fernando Gutierrez, Director of the Department of Communication and Digital Art of the Monterrey Technological Institute,
Campus Estado Mexico, and General Coordinator of World Internet Project, Mexico, 18 June 2010.
50.  e blog and web page of EZLN is http://enlacezapatista.ezln.org.mx/.  ere are presented all the initiatives, manifestos, reports, speeches,
complaints, and activities of the zapatistas communities.
MAPPING DIGITAL MEDIA MEXICO36
El Sendero del Peje ( e Garfi sh Path)51
e 6 July 2006 presidential elections in Mexico were much disputed. Having narrowly lost the preliminary
count, Andrés Manuel López Obrador from the centre-left Democratic Revolution Party (Partido de la
Revolución Democrática, PRD), challenged the results with the Federal Electoral Tribunal (Tribunal Electoral
del Poder Judicial de la Federación, TEPJF), and demanded a recount. An independent blog named El Sendero
del Peje was created to support López Obradors fi ght for the presidency.  e blog’s creator, Víctor Hernández,
published information that would not have been otherwise hosted by established media, which were overtly
against Mr López Obrador. His blog even published a list of the media enterprises, companies, and journalists
blocking information about this initiative.
e main objectives of the blog were to seek, comment, and gather information related to Mr López Obrador.
It also hosted a link to his offi cial website, discussion forums, links to stories, and columns on his candidacy
published in newspapers and to broadcasts on radio and TV about him. El Sendero del Peje became a major
focus of discussion for the public, including journalists, independent media, and politicians. El Sendero del
Peje became more famous when journalists Federico Arreola (from Milenio newspaper) and Julio Hernández
(from La Jornada newspaper) wrote about the blog in their columns.  e climax came when the journalist
Denise Maerker showed program videos from the blog on TV.  is broadcast alone boosted the blog’s visitor
numbers by 10,000. On the election day, the blog had 17,000 visitors, rising to 60,000 the following day.
e blog visit measurement company Blogalaxia ranked El Sendero del Peje for a long time as the most visited
blog in Latin America. (El Sendero del Peje has now evolved into the alternative news website SDPnoticias.
com.)
Internet Necesario (Necessary Internet)
is was a micro-blogging-based type of cyber-protest developed from October 2009 to November 2009.
Its purpose was to inform people about the government’s proposal to impose new taxes on telecoms services
such as internet subscriptions, cell-phone subscriptions, and pay-TV. Alejandro Pisanty, who represented
the Internet Society in Mexico, an international NGO, promoting internet deployment, gave out the
information through two tweets on the Twitter social network about the complaint against the government
initiative and created the hash-tag #Internetnecesario.  e rst message about the complaint was sent in the
morning of 19 October 2009 and by midnight a total of 100,000 tweets had been generated. About 12,000
people spread the news and within a few hours, an unprecedented online protest took shape. Two days later,
traditional media picked up the story, publishing interviews and reports about the #Internetnecesario.  e
protest forced Congress to organize a hearing with NGOs and academics to discuss the situation. In the end,
the government’s proposal was not approved.
51.  is is Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s nickname, because the garfi sh – half fi sh, half alligator – is native to his home state of Tabasco.
37OPEN SOCIETY MEDIA PROGRAM 2011
Callejerito
is became the name of a stray dog that was kicked, tortured, and fi nally killed by four Mexican teenagers.
e brutal act was made known through pictures posted on Facebook, a video uploaded on YouTube, and
reports posted on blogs.  e four teenagers were identifi ed. e case prompted demands from citizens via
social networks to apply the law to the four teenagers and for a reform of the animal protection laws. In 40
cities, street demonstrations were organized via social networks for Callejerito.  e case was reported in most
of the established media, the perpetrators were interviewed by the local radio station in the town where they
were based, and they admitted torturing and killing the dog.  e protest went then beyond Mexican borders.
Organizations such as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and Animanaturalis sharply
criticized the act.
Electoral smear campaigns
Social networks have also been used for this purpose, especially YouTube.  e Federal Electoral Institute
(Instituto Federal Electoral, IFE) has debated in the past whether it should fi ne smear-video campaigns aired
via the internet.52 is followed the smear campaigns in the 2006 presidential elections. A reform of the
electoral legislation in 2007 prohibited parties and politicians from using expressions in the media that
denigrate institutions or slander individuals. In May 2009, the IFE discussed a new problematic case, a video
that parodied a song from a famous Mexican fi lm, Rudo y Cursi.  e parody was, in fact, a way to spread
denigrating comments about the governor of the state of Veracruz. It said: “I saw him, I saw him, I saw him,
I saw him stealing, oh, oh, oh, yes, I saw him in his mansion counting money, he doesnt want to tell us where
did he got it; tell me, tell me, what are you selling, little music monkey.” As a result, the regional attorney
in Veracruz lodged a case against the creators and perpetrators of the video with the Federal Electoral Court
(TRIFE).53 is case set a precedent: the IFE discussed the violation of the electoral law through content
on the internet and adopted provisions forbidding denigration and slander online.  e IFE also ordered
YouTube to remove the link to the video.
Organized crime
On 23 February 2010, a message reading “Gunfi re on the main square of Reynosa [at the Tamaulipas–Texas
border], 23 dead persons approx. mostly civilian” appeared on Facebook. It was followed on Twitter by this
message: “Big gunfi re on the two international bridges of Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas.” Facebook followed: “It
is offi cial today Wednesday 24.02.10 in our city Matamoros, Tamaulipas, curfew at the stroke of 21 hours.
If you have read this please paste it, send it and publish it, you never know when you can save a life. Don’t
be out late…”  ese messages caused confusion because of the crime waves the country has experienced in
52.  e IFE is a public, autonomous, independent institution in terms of decisions and operations. It was established by the state with the authority
to organize federal elections, which are those for the president as well as the Upper and Lower Chambers of the Federal Congress. Headquartered
in the Federal District, it has offi ces in the capital cities of the 32 states and in the 300 electoral districts. It receives funding from the state budget
that it is approved by the Chambers of Congress.
53.  e other electoral authority is the Federal Electoral Court—Federal Judicial Branch (Tribunal Electoral del Poder Judicial de la Federación,
TRIFE), and it has the responsibility to supervise that all acts and rulings pronounced by the electoral authorities observe the Constitution and
the laws derived from it.
MAPPING DIGITAL MEDIA MEXICO38
recent years.  e director of Milenio TV titled his column in the daily Milenio: “Twitter wants to kill us with
fear.54 He criticized the impunity of social networks where information is not verifi able: “With a sense of
survival that nobody can criticize, media and reporters stopped reporting. Fertile terrain for make-believe.
He concluded: “When journalism dies, only the offi cial version remains. And now Twitter. How frightening.
In April 2010, Time magazine wrote that Mexican drug cartels appeared to have adopted a new technique to
avoid military raids and police checkpoints by posting warnings on Facebook and Twitter.55
3.2.2 The Importance of Digital Mobilizations
As described in one example above, digital mobilizations organized through social networks have started to
prompt state institutions to incorporate new technologies.  ese mobilizations involve politicians, are carried
out by citizens though social networks, and are then picked up by traditional media. In some situations
these new tools provide critical support for crises, but in other situations they create confusion and outrage.
People working in various state institutions or ordinary people who have been through various crises have
increasingly started to use social networks to disseminate their demands. A survey on the use of Twitter in
Mexico shows that between August 2009 and January 2010, the number of active Twitter accounts grew
eightfold.56 e survey predicted that the number of such accounts would reach some 350,000 by July 2010.
At this time of writing, it has exceeded 1 million twitter accounts.
3.3 Assessments
Activists, politicians, and regular citizens use digital media to enhance their impact on traditional media.
Alma Delia Fuentes, a journalist specializing in new media, says that Web 2.0 digital mobilizations such as
blogs and social networks have forced journalists to produce more content and improve their research, as they
realize that people are using new media to generate their own news and information content more rapidly,
accurately, and sometimes from the spot.57 Citizens use such digital tools to publish stories online, upload
their own stories on social networks and comment on news produced by traditional media online. In general,
however, established media publish online news from newswires rather than journalists’ investigations, Fuentes
said. Some broadcasters and newspapers use citizen-generated information to create news. For example, El
Universal on its online Citizen Reporter section encourages readers to upload their stories with photos and
video captured and recorded on their mobile phones or video cameras.58 e commercial TV station Televisa
off ers something similar on esmas.com.59
54. Ciro Gómez Leyva, “Twitter nos quiere matar de miedo” (Twitter wants to kill us with fear), Milenio, 25 February 2010, available at http://
impreso.milenio.com/node/8725469 (accessed 18 May 2010).
55. Alexis Okeowo, “To Battle Cartels, Mexico Weighs Twitter Crackdown,” 14 April 2010, available at http://www.time.com/time/world/ar-
ticle/0,8599,1981607,00.html (accessed 18 May 2010).
56. Guillermo Pérezbolde, “Twitter en México” (Twitter in Mexico), available at http://www.slideshare.net/gpbolde/twitter-en-mexico (accessed 17
May 2010).
57. Interview with Alma Delia Fuentes, editor of the news website cnnexpansion.com in Spanish, former editor of El Universal online and teacher
of cyberjournalism since 2003 at the Monterrey Technological Institute, Campus Ciudad de Mexico, 18 June 2010.
58. See http://interactivo.eluniversal.com.mx/contactanos/rciudadano.html (accessed 18 May 2010).
59. See http://enviayreporta.esmas.com/noticierostv/ (accessed 18 May 2010).
39OPEN SOCIETY MEDIA PROGRAM 2011
In the last few years, the users of social networks multiplied exponentially. Another trend was a fi rmer
relation between established media, alternative radical media, and social networks. Limited access for citizens
to established media helped legitimize the work of the alternative radical media. Information published on
social networks has also increasingly made it into stories in the established media, which have embraced social
networks to increase the number of their readers, viewers, listeners, and visitors.
New media have proved their power in Mexico. More than ever, citizens can communicate directly with
politicians, organizations, institutions, and so forth. Even congressmen answer messages on Twitter because
they are both exposed by and in a very dynamic community, where people answer and communicate very
rapidly. New media, given their dynamics and practicality, are seen as useful because they have become a
political tool, which opens possibilities for rebalancing the poles of power in political life. Fuentes says that
social networks make a qualitative contribution in Mexico, as they give social groups the power to infl uence
the news agenda in the mainstream media and to push for fresh social policies. However, their impact is still
limited because relatively few people have internet access despite the increasing number of users.  e digital
mobilizations are not a guarantee that this problem is solved.  e possibility that any citizen can create a blog
or send messages by social networks on themes relevant for them could also help create an extensive base of
information and knowledge.
Ignacio Catalán says that to encourage participation through new media, it is necessary to reduce digital
illiteracy, not only by providing more computers, but also by maximizing the power of networking. Citizens
must also learn the value of the information they post. Simple posting does not achieve anything much
by itself, even on a massive scale. In order to boost civic participation, topics that are relevant for ordinary
citizens should be disseminated.60
60. Ignacio Catalán, “Destacan importancia de la ética periodística” ( e importance of journalism ethics), 10 November 2009, available at http://
www.eluniversal.com.mx/estados/73637.html (accessed 19 May 2010).
MAPPING DIGITAL MEDIA MEXICO40
4. Digital Media and Journalism
4.1 Impact on Journalists and Newsrooms
4.1.1 Journalists
Digitization has allowed for faster distribution of more abundant news content on more platforms, but
it has also led to falling circulation in the print media and advertising migration from traditional to new
media.  e nancial crisis in Mexico has not aff ected journalism as sharply as in Europe and the United
States.  e free-of-charge print media and news portals have yet not posed a threat to the press, mainly
because they traditionally survive on government advertising, and funding from universities or other public
institutions and political parties. In 2009, newspapers and magazines pulled in some US$35 million in
advertising spending, which represented some 10 percent of the total spending by the federal government on
social communication, which means spending by state institutions on publicizing the government’s policies
and programs.  e print sector was the fi fth-largest recipient of money from the budget following TV, radio,
foreign media, and the internet.61
e crisis in Mexican journalism has been triggered by digitization and the migration of advertising to
other media, particularly the internet. In 2009, online media pulled in some MXN2,345 billion (US$192
million) in advertising revenue, which is a growth of 24 percent over 2008.62 e internet increases the reach
of all combined traditional media by up to 26 percentage points, in a country with 11.3 million computers
connected to the internet in 2009.
61. J. Bravo, “Gasto de Comunicación Social 2009” (2009: spending on social communication), El Búho, April 2010, p. 36, available at http://www.
reneavilesfabila.com.mx/universodeelbuho/117/02_de_nuestra.pdf (accessed 25 June 2010) (hereafter Bravo, “2009”).
62. IAB México, “Internet advertising investment grew 24 percent during 2009,” 2010, available at http://iabmexico.com/archivos/medioteca/9e86_
fact_sheet_2009_ok.pdf (accessed 21 June 2010).
41OPEN SOCIETY MEDIA PROGRAM 2011
Figure 15.
Most preferred media consumption activities online, 2009
Source: AMIPCI, 200963
Digitization has had two sorts of impact on journalism: one more political and the other more technological
and fi nancial.
e rst impact is related to the political transition to democracy that started after the 2000 elections
when the centre-right National Action Party (Partido Acción Nacional, PAN) formed a government after
71 uninterrupted years of administration by the Institutional Revolutionary Party (Partido Revolucionario
Institucional, PRI).  is change did not complete the achievement of freedom of expression which had
increased during the last six years of the PRI administration, but it did create broad expectations of a diff erent
relationship between the political class, the mass media, and journalists.
e change in 2000 led to a looser relation between media and the government than during the previous
authoritarian regime, which had used censorship and other mechanisms of control to pressurize the media.
e relation evolved from a somewhat disguised subordination of the media by the government to a more
fragmented, competitive, and pluralist media scene where political confl icts appear more often. Moreover, a
larger number of stakeholders, including the old political groups, were allowed into the policy debate: they
included the mass media and organized crime groups.  e latter started to make intensive and unusual use
of political communication tools.
e new relationship between the media and the political establishment that emerged after 2000 was
characterized by greater political independence for the media, greater freedom to cover topics that had been
taboo, greater risks for journalists and less good-quality journalism, with more trivialization and sensationalism
in political coverage.
e second impact is connected to the deployment of new technologies that led to transformations in news
production, distribution, and consumption, as well as in the practice of journalism more broadly. It is hard to
say whether technological innovation has translated into better journalism able to bolster public debate and,
implicitly, the quality of democracy.
Newspaper reading 22%Other 63%
Radio listening 11%
TV watching 8%
Reading magazines 6%
63. AMIPCI, “Habits of Internet Users in Mexico” 2009, available at http://www.amipci.org.mx/estudios/temp/RESUMENEJECUTIVOEstudio-
AMIPCI2009UsuariosdeinternetFINAL-0334725001245691260OB.pdf (accessed 20 June 2010).
MAPPING DIGITAL MEDIA MEXICO42
Many publications wou ld disappear if there were no state advertising. However, subsidizing the media from
state coff ers jeopardizes the independence of media outlets because there is no regulation imposing caps on
allocations of what has become known as offi cial advertising in the media.  e main concern is that magazines
and newspapers sometimes cover public institutions positively because they depend on offi cial advertising.
en, public institutions also sometimes pressurize these publications to cover them in a positive manner.
Consumption of information and downloading of journalistic content through mobile devices such as mobile
handsets have increased in recent years. Six percent of mobile telephone users access the internet through
mobile devices.64 Print media have recently been searching for a new business model to encompass these new
technologies. Such strategies include migration exclusively to the internet (such as Reporte Indigo magazine),
charging for online content (the daily Reforma), merger of newsrooms of more media companies (such as the
media groups Imagen and Multimedios), or launch of production of journalistic content for mobile devices
(the daily El Universal). Some media observers believe the last is likely to be the trend in coming years.
Opinions vary on the impact of technological convergence on journalism. Nevertheless, everyday practice
shows that convergence has been a pretext for reducing production costs, which has had direct repercussions
on the quality of news and information output, and has shaken job security in the industry.
As in other parts of the world,65 diff erent models of converged journalism can be found in Mexico, ranging
from a model based on two distinct editions, one in print and one digital, such as the El Universal daily
newspaper, to a model based on fully merged news desks that aim at effi ciently using resources.  ere
are two examples of media that feature a “high-intensity journalistic convergence,66 seen mostly in the
profound transformations that took place in the type of work done, namely in the media groups Imagen and
Multimedios.67 According to María Elena Meneses, some 66 percent of the journalists from Grupo Imagen,
most of them young, found it very hard to move towards convergence,68 while 34 percent found this easy.
On a diff erent note, some 62 percent in the same survey said that they received a boost in salary during this
process, but 35 percent were not given any fi nancial compensation. At the same time, about 69 percent
agreed that they worked longer hours after the convergence of the newsrooms, 25 percent said that they had
the same working hours, and only 3 percent said that they worked fewer hours.69
64. Mundo 2.0 contact, “México, entre los países donde más se leen blogs” (Mexico, among the countries where blogs are inceasingly being read,
available at http://www.mundo-contact.com/enlinea_detalle.php?recordID=12172 (accessed 28 June 2010).
65. According to a survey among editors-in-chief of newspapers during the World Newspaper Forum in Gothenburg, Sweden, in May 2008, 53
percent of those canvassed said that they were managing converged editorial departments, producing content for both digital and print versions
of the publications. Some 69 percent said that they planned to converge their print and digital departments by 2013.
66. M.E. Meneses, “Las implicaciones de la convergencia en la industria periodística en México. El caso de Grupo Imagen” ( e implications of
the convergence in the Mexican journalism industry: Case study of Grupo Imagen), PhD thesis in Social Sciences, FCPyS of the UNAM, 2009
(hereafter Meneses, “El caso de Grupo Imagen”).
67. Grupo Imagen, a pioneer in journalistic convergence in Mexico, owns the daily newspaper Excelsior, the internet portal exonline.com.mx, radio
stations, and a free-to-air TV channel.  e business magazine Expansión ranked the conglomerate that owns Grupo Imagen as 126th of the 500
largest companies by sales revenues in Mexico.  e Multimedios group operates the Milenio Diario network of daily local newspapers, the weekly
Milenio Semenal, internet websites, radio stations, and Milenio TV, a news channel on pay-TV and internet.
68. Moving towards convergence is the process whereby newsgathering increasingly involves knowledge about using digital tools.
69. Meneses, “El caso de Grupo Imagen.”
43OPEN SOCIETY MEDIA PROGRAM 2011
Digitization has made information production more cost-eff ective, but it has not necessarily improved
working conditions for journalists. Unless they belong to the small circle of well-paid star journalists,
reporters receive low salaries compared with the average.  e Federal Labor Act does not include journalism
among 18 professions listed.  erefore, protecting the rights of journalists is diffi cult. Journalism in Mexico
is characterized by a lack of employment security, a high level of competition for work, a wide range of
risks extending even to murder, and violations of labor provisions such as failures by media outlets to off er
training, overreliance on freelance contracting, absence of social benefi ts, and lack of union organization.
On top of these concerns, no legislation guarantees the federalization of crimes committed against journalists
and freedom of expression; nor are there codes of ethics or ombudsmen in the media. Defamation lawsuits
against journalists are often used as a means to harm them fi nancially and discourage free expression.  e
right to reply is not regulated.  e situation of journalists is even worse outside the Federal District where
there is a much higher level of uncertainty, including physical violence. (See section 4.2.2.)
In 2008, according to the latest data available, about 30,000 people worked in journalism, of whom
54 percent were women. Some 49 percent of the journalists in all media received a monthly income of
MXN4,000 (US$309)–10,000 (US$772); 23 percent earned less than MXN4,000; and only 26 percent had
a salary higher than MXN10,000, according to the latest survey available.70 Over 60 percent of journalists
worked with traditional media. Only some 10 percent were in the online sector. Only some 9 percent of
online journalists were paid in the mid-range segment.
In Mexico, there is what has become known as the journalist reserve army, consisting of young reporters
seeking jobs. With an abundance of unemployed journalists, the salaries of reporters are often cut. New-entry
reporters are immediately equipped with portable computers, wireless devices, video cameras, and digital
recorders, and asked to produce content for diff erent platforms, including the print edition of newspapers and
their websites, radio, and television programs. In these conditions, there is little room for proper investigation
and contextualization of the news, and the quality of news output is deteriorating. As a result, there is very
often similar or even identical news output in diff erent media. (See Figure 16.)
Figure 16.
Distribution of journalists, by type of media outlet, 2008
Note: Social communications offi ces are the public relations in each ministry.
Source: CIMAC, 2008.
70. Communication and Information on Women (CIMAC, Comunicación e Información de la Mujer), “Labour conditions of journalists in Mexico,
an approach,” Mexico, 2008, a survey conducted among 200 journalists, of whom 123were women and 77 men.
Print media 34%
Other 4%
Broadcasting 27%
Social communications offi ces 13%
Online media 10%
News agencies 8%
Correspondents 4%
MAPPING DIGITAL MEDIA MEXICO44
4.1.2 Ethics
Digit ization has had no perceptible eff ect on the ethical behavior of journalists in Mexico.
Only a few media outlets have self-regulation mechanisms, including codes of ethics. Where these codes do
exist, the public is not informed about them; they are circulated privately among the company’s employees.
Digitization has not had any direct consequence for the ethical behavior of journalists or media outlets.
Outlets that have codes of ethics had them also before the emergence of digital media.  e outlets that have
such codes include, for example, the dailies El Financiero and El Excelsior, and the magazine Proceso, the latter
being one the most popular and controversial political magazines.71 In total, there are just 39 codes of ethics
in a country numbering a total of 3,400 media outlets and journalists’ associations.72 e journalist Rogelio
Hernández López says: “Probably in the daily professional routine, tens or maybe hundreds of journalists
behave ethically, but at the end of the day, the market in Mexico sets these rules.73
4.2 Investigative Journalism
4.2.1 Opportunities
Digitization has helped investigative journalism, making it possible for journalists to seek, fi nd, and cite
many more sources and information that otherwise would not have been available. Nevertheless, digitization
itself does not guarantee a higher quality of journalism.
Following the change in administration in 2002, Congress approved the Federal Transparency and Access
to Public Governmental Public Information Act,74 which among other things created a Federal Institute
of Access to Public Information (Instituto Federal de Acceso a la Información Pública, IFAI), in charge of
guaranteeing the right to access information.  e Act allows any citizen to request information from public
institutions and obliges these institutions to release the information. An electronic system allowing such
requests to be fi led over the internet was introduced in 2003.
e protection of sources and the right to use off -the-record information are not enshrined in law. Since
2002, however, journalists have been able to request documents from public institutions legally, without
compromising their ethical and professional principles by trying to obtain information surreptitiously.  e
Transparency Act has become a valuable tool that eases the work of investigative journalists, but reporters
need to make more use of it. Mass media requests for information accounted for a mere 10 percent of
71. Trejo Delarbre, Raúl, Volver a los medios. De la crítica a la ética (Going to the Media. From the Critic to the Ethic), Cal y Arena, 1994–1997,
Mexico.
72. Omar Raúl Martínez, Códigos de ética periodística en México (Ethical Codes in Mexico), Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla, México,
2009, p. 380.
73. Rogelio Hernández López, “Periodismo y mercado” (Journalism and Market), Contralínea, June 2010, available at http://contralinea.info/
archivo-revista/index.php/2010/06/27/periodismo-y-mercado/ (accessed 27 October 2010).
74. Offi cial Gazette of the Federation, 11 June 2002; the last amendment published in the Offi cial Gazette of the Federation was on 6 June 2006.
45OPEN SOCIETY MEDIA PROGRAM 2011
requests for information fi led between 2003 and 2009. According to reports from the IFAI, print journalists
increasingly request more public information, while radio and television journalists appear not to use this
tool at all.
e Act has helped investigative journalists to gather more information and to unearth more issues of public
interest. Journalism has begun to fulfi ll its watchdog role in matters of national importance such as access
to judicial records in drug cases, publishing names of people and companies that evade tax, and so forth.75
However, this tool is not yet being used to its full potential. e possibility for e-request is the main provision
of this Act.
4.2.2 Threats
Investigative journalism is hard to carry out in Mexico where freedom of expression itself is in jeopardy.  ere
are three main threats: drug-traffi cking and organized crime; state bodies that impose censorship on media
outlets through practices such as discretionary allocation of state spending on social communications or
defamation lawsuits; and business interests that lead to a symbiotic relation between media on the one hand
and businesses or advertising interests on the other.
Governments since 2002 have tolerated freedom of expression without guaranteeing it. More journalists were
assassinated during the PAN governments than under the previous administrations, and the dangers posed by
drug-traffi cking and organized crime continued. Under international pressure, the administration of Vicente
Fox created a Special Prosecutor for Monitoring Aggression against Journalists, but not a single case has been
resolved to date.
Between 2000 and 2010, some 65 journalists were murdered, according to the National Human Rights
Commission (Comisión Nacional de los Derechos Humanos, CNDH).76 is makes Mexico the country with
the highest number of murdered reporters in Latin America, ahead of Colombia, and the second most
dangerous in terms of assassinations of journalists and civilians after Iraq.  e number of murders was higher
than during PRI rule, which was marked by censorship and authoritarianism. (See Figure 17.)
But beyond those, digitization has brought no direct threats to investigative journalism. Even after the release
of many cables that depicted the Mexican government negatively during the WikiLeaks saga in 2010, the
government did not use any pressure to block access to those data, and the media referred to them freely.
75. Offi cials, however, are increasingly skillful at hiding information and outside the Federal District the lack of transparency of public information
is even higher.
76. CNDH, “Guarantees urgent for the professional practice of journalists,” 2 May 2010, available at http://www.cndh.org.mx/comsoc/comsoc.asp
(accessed 1 July 2010).
MAPPING DIGITAL MEDIA MEXICO46
Figure 17.
Record of journalists killed in Mexico, 2000–2010
Source: CNDH in http://eleconomista.com.mx/sociedad/2010/11/03/cndh-reporta-65-homicidios-periodistas-decada (accessed
10 January 2011).
4.2.3 New Platforms
In 2009, Mexico had 5.9 million users of blogs, making it the fourth country in the world in blogging activity
after South Korea, the Philippines and China. Some 60 percent of these users had their own blogs, and over
87 percent accessed one regularly.77 Nevertheless, unlike in countries such as the United States, blogs have
not yet become investigative journalism centers that would work on a daily basis.
e low impact of blogs and social networks on investigative journalism has two causes.  e rst is the
domination of traditional media: over 95 percent of Mexicans consume news on TV, about 87 percent of
them take news from radio and barely 16 percent read a newspaper.78 e second cause is the relatively low
rate of internet penetration, reaching nearly 27 percent of the population in 2009.79
4.2.4 Dissemination and Impact
More recently, with the intensifi cation of violence, including killings during “the war on drug-traffi cking”
waged by the federal government, international social networks such as Facebook and Twitter or video-sharing
portals such as YouTube allowed for the dissemination of information and images that are not available on
traditional media, which fear reprisals from criminal gangs or the police and military authorities. Alerts about
ongoing confrontations, photos and videos of such violent acts, are shared and exposed on the internet,
particularly in cities such as Ciudad Juárez or Monterrey where violence has been mounting. Even criminal
gangs started to use social networks to warn authorities, threaten their rivals or terrorize citizens by airing
videos of executions, including warnings on motorway closures, upcoming confrontations, and ambushes.
77. Universal McCann in http://www.mundo-contact.com/enlinea_detalle.php?recordID=12172 (accessed 19 January 2011).
78. CONACULTA, “National Survey of Cultural Practices and Cultural Consumption,” Mexico, 2004.
79. Source: AMIPCI.
0
5
10
15
2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010
4 4
3
1
54
10
4
10
12 11
47OPEN SOCIETY MEDIA PROGRAM 2011
In general, investigative journalism has improved, mostly because there is a better democratic environment in
the country in terms of freedom of speech. At the same time, the country has a more competitive journalism
market that stimulates media outlets to produce more in-depth stories.  e new technologies are a tool that
helps to disseminate the product more widely.
4.3 Social and Cultural Diversity
4.3.1 Sensitive Issues
e most sensitive topics in terms of social and cultural diversity are related to the lack of democracy over the
past 70 years. As such, they cover a wide range of concerns, inside and outside the conventional defi nition of
diversity.  ese topics are not covered continuously in the media, and only resurface when they are triggered
by a specifi c event or the government decides to tackle an issue directly.
In recent years, these topics have included:
migration from Mexico to the United States
drug-traffi cking, violence and organized crime
planned legalization of abortion
same-sex marriages and sexual abuse by priests
controversial relationships between the Government, parliament and the judiciary, as well as highly
debatable decisions by the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation (SCJN, Suprema Corte de Justicia de
la Nación)
economic crisis, corruption and impunity
electoral reform
social confl icts such as those in San Salvador Atenco—State of Mexico—and Oaxaca city in 200680
the Zapatista Movement and its spokesman, Subcomandante Marcos
Other relevant topics that do not get suffi cient media coverage include indigenous peoples, extreme
poverty, the reform of state structures, unemployment, democratic reform of the mass-media system, and
environmental degradation.
80. In San Salvador Atenco in 2006, settlers clashed with federal, state and municipal authorities.  e story goes back to 2003, when residents
blocked a plan to build an international airport after the federal government decided to pay a low price for expropriated land. e repressive
measures against the people of Atenco in 2006 were interpreted by political annalists and settlers as government revenge for blocking the con-
struction of the promised airport. After four years in jail the leaders of the locals were freed in 2010.
MAPPING DIGITAL MEDIA MEXICO48
4.3.2 Coverage of Sensitive Issues
Migration is one of the most sensitive topics between the United States and Mexico.  e annual illegal
emigration fl ow from Mexico averages 1 million, depending on such factors as the economic crisis, drug-
traffi cking, the war on terrorism, restrictive policies, and anti-immigration legislation. On this topic, the
media report mainly on remittances sent back to Mexico by immigrants to the United States, the importance
of illegal immigrant Mexican workers to the US economy, cases of immigrants captured and deported by the
American Border Patrol, the unwillingness of the White House and Congress to approve a comprehensive
law that would solve the problem of Mexican immigration, and failed attempts by the Mexican government
to convince its U.S. counterpart to reach migration accords.
Topics such as drug-traffi cking, violence, lack of security, and organized crime are the most sensitive and
frequently covered in the media, but not often with the depth they require. In December 2006, the newly
appointed government of Mr Calderón declared a “war on drug-traffi cking,” a media strategy for fi ghting
the underworld, but also for legitimizing itself after a controversial electoral process that was marked by
accusations of fraud. Offi cial data estimate that drug-traffi cking generates an annual income of US$40 billion
and that half a million families in Mexico are involved in one way or another in the drug business.  e same
data show that in the fi rst three years in power of the Calderón government, over 12,000 people lost their
lives, the majority assumed to have been the result of account-settling among criminal gangs.
Journalistic coverage of such topics is risky.  ere have been numerous cases of journalists killed because of
their coverage of organized crime.  is danger prompts many publications to publish stories anonymously or
without by-lines. Usually, these stories quote offi cial bulletins from the police, defense and justice departments
in the government, and report on the arrest of drug barons and assassins, and the capture of drugs and
weapons.  ey also report on confrontations between criminals and authorities, settling of accounts among
criminals and messages from drug-traffi ckers, but without deeper investigation because of the risks involved.
Sensational news such as the inclusion of Joaquín Guzmán, nicknamed “El Chapo,” one of the most wanted
drug-traffi ckers in the world, among the Forbes 2009 Worlds Richest People, is widely reported.
In the fi rst two years of the “war against drugs,” media coverage of drug-traffi cking included sensitive topics
such as human rights abuses by the military, the effi ciency and legality of the authorities’ operations against
drug dealers, the governmental strategy for fi ghting organized crime, the role of the military in carrying out
police tasks in the streets, the scope and limitations of the Mérida initiative between Mexico and the United
States,81 and the more active role that the latter should take in controlling drug consumption, the work of the
intelligence services, and so on.  e legalization of drugs has also been tackled by the media, but there were
not many arguments in its favor.
All these topics a re discussed more freely online than in the traditional media. On the other hand, information
related to the “drugs war” is a delicate issue related to the security of journalists and media.
81.  e Mérida initiative is a security cooperation agreement dating back to 2007, between the United States and Mexico, aimed at fi ghting drug-
traffi cking, organized crime, and money laundering.
49OPEN SOCIETY MEDIA PROGRAM 2011
4.3.3 Space for Public Expression
e situation for minorities in terms of both media visibility and presence is particularly grave.  e
constitution recognizes Mexico as a multicultural state. Its main minorities are, from an ethnic viewpoint,
indigenous communities that number some 10 million people.  e constitution also recognizes the right of
towns and communities to acquire, operate, and manage media for community integration.
Nevertheless, in practice there are no optimal political and legal conditions for exercising this right because the
Broadcasting Act does not establish rules and conditions for these minorities to acquire a TV or radio license.
At the same time, most of these communities lack access to new technologies as telecoms companies do not
consider them as an attractive market. In this situation, indigenous groups are being isolated from the eff ects
of the digitization that is happening in the rest of the country. On the other hand, ethnic and social minorities
are insuffi ciently represented in the mainstream media, a situation that has not been changed by digitization.
Among sexual minorities, the gay and lesbian community has its own spaces for expression, but is marginalized
in the mainstream media.
4.4 Political Diversity
4.4.1 Elections and Political Coverage
To date, digitization has not changed the regulation of election coverage in the media. Nevertheless, the
controversial 2006 elections82 led to the creation of a congressional majority that in 2007 approved a
constitutional reform, which among other things, established the following new relationship between parties
and mass media:
reduce public subsidy of election campaigns (in the 2006 elections, the parties received a total of US$188
million, which civil society organizations saw as excessive)
ban the sale of radio and television airtime to political parties: this task has been transferred to the IFE
shorten the electoral campaign from six months to some three months for the president, senators, and
congressmen, and regulate the time and access to electoral messages before the election campaigns
ban stakeholders outside the election process, such as churches or trade unions, from taking part in campaigns
regulate government campaigns: government bodies, for example, are obliged not to advertise their
public policy and pay for this service in the media
strengthen the tasks and powers of the election authorities, which now have more tools to impose fi nes
or other forms of sanctions on political parties
82. In 2006, at the end of the elections that gave the victory by less than half a percentage point to Calderón and his party (PAN), the opposition
candidate (Andrés Manuel López Obrador, of the leftist coalition For Everyone’s Good), challenged the elections saying that fraud was involved
(see section 3.2).
MAPPING DIGITAL MEDIA MEXICO50
Of all these new provisions, only the ban on radio and TV broadcast airtime has to do with the media.  e
others are related to general political campaigning before elections.  e 2007 electoral reform was designed
to resolve the defi ciencies and excesses of the tense electoral process in 2006. It limited the campaign to a
maximum of 90 days for general elections and of 60 days for mid-term parliamentary elections.  e cuts in
electoral funding introduced by the electoral reform of 2007 are estimated at over MXN3 billion (US$250
million) over the next three years.
The internet has become more used mostly in electoral campaigns. In 2009, a video that ridiculed
Governor Fidel Herrera (member of the PRI) of the State of Veracruz drew high traffi c after it was
uploaded on YouTube. It was then presented on Milenio TV. Its soundtrack was broadcast by various
radio stations. The PRI accused its rival party, PAN, of being behind this video and complained to the
IFE General Council, which found the complaint unfounded, stating that the video was “in no manner
linked to or accredited by PAN as authors … or proved their responsibility for [its] dissemination.”
Nonetheless, despite this decision, the IFE general manager, Marco Antonio Gomez Alcantar,
stated that the election watchdog would seek to prevent similar campaigns from disgracefully or
anonymously turning the internet into a no-man’s-land.83 Following the PRI complaint, IFE ordered
YouTube to remove the video, which it did.84 Until June 2010, however, there were no specifi c
regulations for electoral campaigns on the internet. However, demand for such regulation has been
increasing.85
In digital media and new technologies, there were no signifi cant news sources that moved to non-regulated
or less regulated platforms.
4.4.2 Digital Political Communications
Parties were banned from purchasing airtime on radio or television in 2006.  eir sole access to electronic
media is through a program and calendar established by the state-regulated timetable.  e IFE will be in
charge of allocating time slots to political parties during electoral campaigns at both federal and local levels.
Since 2007, the Federal Code of Electoral Institutions and Procedures (Código Federal de Instituciones y
Procedimientos Electorales, COFIPE) has prohibited any entity from buying advertising on radio or television
that favors or attacks any party or candidates in elections and thus would infl uence the viewers’ electoral
preferences.
83. Notimex, “Analiza IFE desechar queja por video de YouTube” ( e IFE considers rejection of a complaint regarding YouTube video), 15 May
2009, available at http://www.wradio.com.mx/nota.aspx?id=812396 (accessed 2 July 2010). Notimex is the news agency of the Mexican State.
Since 2006, it has been a decentralized organ of the Federal Public Administration. More information at www.notimex.com.mx (accessed 11
March 2011).
84. Hoy por Hoy, “Propone PRI-Veracruz regular campañas por Internet” (PRI Veracruz proposes regulation of campaigns via internet), 15 May
2009, available at http://www.wradio.com.mx/nota.aspx?id=812508 (accessed 2 July 2010).
85. For example, Jorge Carvallo Delfi n, president of the PRI board of directors in Veracruz, stated that the federal representatives would propose an
initiative for the IFE to regulate electoral campaigns on the internet.
51OPEN SOCIETY MEDIA PROGRAM 2011
Parties are forbidden by law to denigrate institutions or individuals. But this restriction does not hinder the
work of journalists. During the electoral campaign, advertising spending by government must be suspended.
e only such spending allowed during this period is related to campaigns on educational services, health
care and citizen protection in cases of emergency. Government-paid advertising during this period must omit
names, images, voices or symbols related to public offi cials.  e 2007 electoral reforms only changed political
communication in the electronic media, not media coverage as such, and did not refer to digital media at all.
e lawmakers were not interested in regulating the internet during elections because they continue to see
the net as a marginal platform for current aff airs. In a country where only 27 percent of the population has
internet access, politicians generally do not see it as a danger or as an opportunity.
However, political parties have started to make more use of online opportunities. All parties had an offi cial
website and opened micro-sites on the internet for the 5 July 2009 legislative elections.86 ese sites were
very static, focusing on banner and video-spots, and lacking discussion forums, blogs, and in general more
information about the manifestos and candidates. Not surprisingly, they received few and short visits in
2009.  ey lacked a strategy in the sense that they omitted to prepare electoral messages designed for the
internet. At the same time, they did not take advantage of interactive functions.87
At the same time, Facebook and Twitter are becoming favorite tools of some elite politicians who want to be
closer to the citizens and to express their points of view on various issues.
In contrast, eight internet websites of citizen and civil society organizations appeared during the elections
demanding the annulment of the vote because they suspected fraud. Sometimes, their proposals were
published by mainstream media.88 ese websites positioned themselves quickly as spaces off ering valuable,
transparent, and up-to-date information that aimed to hold the political elite accountable.
e media launched electoral micro-sites during the elections, publishing information about the political
parties, candidate profi les, polls, and other news. Such sites created interest among readers to a greater or
lesser extent. During the 2009 elections, political parties and their candidates, civil society activists, and
citizens jumped on to social networks to communicate.89 ey used these networks to announce electoral
events and disseminate electoral speeches or information from the traditional media. Nevertheless, in general,
blogs as a space for expansion of citizen participation during the last elections were not wholly endorsed by
society at large. YouTube stood out as a substitute medium for traditional TV watching. It aired electoral
spots, critical videos, records of electoral meetings, news conferences, and interviews related to the elections.
86. M.E. Meneses and C. García Rubio, “Elecciones e internet en México: el uso político dela red en el marco de la campana electoral de 2009”
(Elections and internet in Mexico: the political use of the internet in the framework of the 2009 electoral campaign), Sala de Prensa 11, 5 (122)
(December 2009), available at http://www.saladeprensa.org (accessed 11 March 2011).
87. Meneses and García., “Elections.
88.  e websites included Voto en Blanco, Anulo mi Voto, Propuesta Cívica, Esperanza Marchita, Tache a Todos, Vota por Papanatas, Vota por
Nadie, and Ponle sentido a tu Voto.
89. In Mexico, the most popular social networks in terms of membership are YouTube, Facebook, Metrofl og, Hi5, and MySpace. (For more detailed
information, see section 3.)
MAPPING DIGITAL MEDIA MEXICO52
4.5 Assessments
Digitization has had two contradictory impacts on the work of journalists, one related to quality and the
other to accuracy. While journalists now have more tools to obtain information and improve the quality of
their work, some of them use the internet just to recycle information.
Journalists can now access information that was not available through traditional means.  e online
availability of historical archives, company fi nancial information, international news sources, offi cial
documents (following requests under the new Transparency Law), coupled with the opportunities off ered by
multimedia platforms, have helped journalists to improve their stories and package them more attractively.
Nevertheless, these tools are not fully exploited by reporters.
Digitization has also aff ected the working conditions of journalists. Reporters working for multimedia
platforms or converged newsrooms process more information and prepare more output, with more and
improved digital devices for more media, platforms, and publics. However, all these expanded capacities and
innovations do not necessarily translate into higher-quality investigative journalism. On the contrary, this
work has become riskier as it often can jeopardize the safety of journalists, for instance when covering drug-
traffi cking. At the same time, journalists continue to be paid meager salaries and frequently the quality of
their content has declined, consisting of shorter pieces, often recycled from other outlets, topped and tailed
with a new introduction and conclusion.
e eff ects of digitization on election coverage have not been developed.  ere was much talk of the success
of political communications over the internet and the use of social networks by Barack Obama in the 2008
U.S. presidential election. However, a set of basic conditions that made that possible in the United States are
lacking in countries such as Mexico, which are characterized by low internet penetration, the dominance of
traditional media as sources of political information, and low levels of interest in public political debate by
traditional and digital media alike.
Most politicians and political leaders have an internet presence and make use of social networks, mainly
Facebook and Twitter, but this has not translated into a closer relationship between government and citizens, a
better-quality democracy or more reliable information.  e new political communication strategies on digital
platforms employed by political parties have not supplanted traditional strategies with their dependence on
speeches, spots, verbal attacks on rivals, photo galleries, etc.
Marginalized social groups, minorities, and citizen organizations are those that have most benefi ted from the
advantages brought by digital media.  e vote annulment campaign mentioned in this section is an example
of citizen empowerment of this kind. Digital media help such groups to have a greater presence in the public
space where the mainstream media used to not pay them much attention.  ey have learned how to create
networks for collaboration, exchange of information, and knowledge.
53OPEN SOCIETY MEDIA PROGRAM 2011
5. Digital Media and Technology
5.1 Spectrum
5.1.1 Spectrum Allocation Policy
e allocation of radio-frequency spectrum is a responsibility of the Ministry of Communications and
Transport (Secretaria de Comunicaciones y Transportes, SCT).
In Mexico, the digitization of broadcasting has only been implemented in television.  e model adopted
was similar in terms of advantaged parties to that promoted in the United States. It has been developed
mainly according to industry needs, under the infl uence of large multinational technology corporations
and equipment manufacturers.  e most important media consortium in Mexico, Grupo Televisa, with the
support of the main industry lobby group, the National Radio and Television Industry Chamber (Cámara de
la Industria de la Radio y la Televisión, CIRT), infl uenced the government to introduce a model of transition
to digital broadcasting in accordance with its interests as set out below.
Government agreements on digital policy started to be made toward the end of the six-year administration
of Ernesto Zedillo (1994–2000) and were cemented in the Fox administration (2000–2006).90 In 2004, the
government established 31 December 2021 as the end date for analog television transmission.91
Broadcast licenses were given, or renewed, until 31 December 2021 in order—the government argued—
to give TV owners time to invest in digital equipment. In parallel, through the same 2004 accord the
government assigned an additional frequency to each operator of TV stations to allow them to start testing
digital transmissions.  ese experimental channels became known as mirror channels. As a result, the two
90. One of these accords reserved frequencies for the future that will be used for terrestrial radio and television digital technologies.  is agreement
was signed in 2000 by the then head of the SCT, Carlos Ruiz Sacristán, who justifi ed blocking the spectrum for the purpose of “carrying out
research and development tasks related to the introduction of sound and digital television radio broadcasting.” (Diario Ofi cial de la Federación
(Offi cial Newspaper of the Federation), 3 October 2000.)
91. “Acuerdo mediante el cual se establecen obligaciones para los concesionarios y permisionarios de radio y televisión relacionadas con las tec-
nologías digitales para la radiodifusión” (Agreement by which the technological standard of digital terrestrial television is adopted and the policy
for the transition to digital land television in Mexico is established), Diario Ofi cial de la Nación, 2 July 2004.
MAPPING DIGITAL MEDIA MEXICO54
dominant commercial TV groups, Televisa and Television Azteca, added to their combined 436 channels
a similar number of digital channels.  ey now control 94 percent of all TV broadcast licenses awarded to
private groups and 66 percent of all TV licenses. When analog broadcasting is shut off , these two operators
will have to free the frequencies on which they now air in analog. Televisa and Azteca were not charged any
fee for using frequencies for their mirror channels.
5.1.2 Transparency
One of the issues of most concern to SCT and COFETEL is the lack of transparency over spectrum allocation.
Neither of the two institutions has clear rules on this process. In 2010, the government launched two tenders
for allocating frequencies on the 1.7 GHz and 1.9 GHz bands for mobile telephony and new generation
(3G) services.  e tender conditions led to protests from various companies, particularly because COFETEL
decided to reserve spectrum for at least one new competitor on the national level in the market.
From the very launch of the tender, it was announced that because of spectrum caps and other requirements
imposed by COFETEL, none of the other interested parties such as Telefónica, Unefon, and Telmex would
be able to compete for this license, leaving only companies such as Televisa and the U.S. telco Nextel in a
position to compete. But instead of competing in each of the two tenders, these two companies joined forces
and contended for one of the two frequencies. As a result, COFETEL declared in summer 2010 that the
second frequency would not be awarded.
e joint venture Televisa-Nextel won the tender, for which they paid slightly more than MXN180 million
(US$15 million). Other operators such as Telcel, Telefónica, Movistar, and Iusacell bid for smaller segments
of 10 MHz in diff erent regions of the country, for which they paid up to three or four times more than
Televisa-Nextel.92 In October 2010, following heated debates about the tender among members of the Federal
Congress, academics, telecommunications experts, and some lawsuits, Televisa decided to cancel its alliance
with Nextel. Critics of the tenders still call for the reorganization of the entire tender process.
5.1.3 Competition for Spectrum
In the transition to digital broadcasting, public policy has given priority to high defi nition digital television
channels (see section 7), which reduces the technical possibility of dividing the same 6 MHz channel into
two, three or even four TV channels. In brief, this reduces the availability of frequencies for more non-
high-defi nition channels. Second, broadcasters are allowed to off er telecoms services such as internet or
mobile phone services on their channels provided that this will not mean total or partial disruption of digital
broadcasting.  e possible explanation for this public policy is that the government wants to favor existing
main players instead of adopting a new policy that could open the spectrum to newcomers.
92. For further information on all the processes and opinions, see Gabriel Sosa-Plata (2010) “Licitación 21, más irregularidades” (Tender 21, More
Issues), El Universal, 22 de Octubre 2010, available at http://www.eluniversal.com.mx/columnas/86747.html (accessed 12 January 2011); Car-
men Aristeguí, interview with former vice-minister of SRT, Purifi cación Carpinteyro, available at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PA13Dt-
vk7E (accessed 15 January 2011).
55OPEN SOCIETY MEDIA PROGRAM 2011
e 2006 amendment of the Federal Radio and Television Act and the Federal Telecommunications Act
(both mockingly referred to as the Televisa Act because they were designed to privilege the comm ercial TV
sector, and more precisely Televisa) allows broadcasters to apply for permission to off er telecoms services
through broadcast channels with COFETEL.  ey will not necessarily have to pay spectrum usage fees.
Nevertheless, following an appeal by a group of senators in 2006, the SCJN ruled that this benefi t, i.e.
exemption from spectrum fees, was unconstitutional because, in the court’s view, it bestowed new privileges
on the dominant companies in the sector.  e court also considered this decision to be unfair as other TV
license holders (cultural, educational, state TV stations, etc.) did not benefi t from it.
In a 2006 decision by the Minister of the Supreme Court, Salvador Aguirre Anguiano, it was argued that the
legal amendments, “instead of preventing … concentration, favors the monopolization of telecommunications
and media in the hands of a few persons to the detriment of the public interest and free availability.93
Anguiano’s decision further explained that allowing dominant TV broadcasters to off er telecoms services
would lead to more concentration on these other segments.94
According to COFETEL, as of May 2010, there were 63 channels transmitting digitally. Of these, 45 cover
cities that were part of the fi rst phase, from 2004 to 2006, of the digital terrestrial transition policy accord
(see section 7). Based on the aforementioned accord, the second phase of the transition was supposed to
cover, between 2006 and 2009, cities with more than 1.5 million residents. According to the INEGI, only
three cities meet those criteria: Puebla, Toluca, and León, in addition to Tijuana, already considered in the
rst period.  e transition has been smooth but mainly because the goals were not very ambitious. Television
Azteca has the most digital channels in operation. It even beat the deadlines established in the government
policy agreement. Televisa has opted to stick to the offi cial timetable and, according to COFETEL, has not
complied with the obligation to air digitally in Toluca and Puebla.
e government acts timidly in promoting competition, plurality, and diversity in the allocation of broadcasting
frequencies. In 2009 and the fi rst half of 2010, COFETEL awarded 19 permits for the operation of radio
and television stations, including one for the Congress Channel, another for the Government of Mexico City
(digital), and six for community radios, which were awarded after technical, fi nancial, and legal procedures
that lasted almost two years, and still have serious restrictions on their footprint.
5.2 Digital Gatekeeping
5.2.1 Technical Standards
No debates on digital standards for radio or TV broadcasting have been organized.  e Consultative
Committee of Digital Radio Broadcasting Technologies, a body created by the government in July 1999,
proposed the international Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC) standard for digital terrestrial
93. Decision of Sergio Salvador Aguirre Anguiano on the action of unconstitutionality 26/2006, p. 497.
94. Anguiano decision, see note 96, p. 499.
MAPPING DIGITAL MEDIA MEXICO56
television.95 is committee is authorized to issue recommendations to the SCT on legal, administrative, and
technical steps for the adoption of digital technologies and standards in radio and television.  e head of
the SCT is tasked to adopt these recommendations.  e committee consists of six members, appointed half
by the SCT and half by the CIRT. People or institutions with proven expertise in the fi eld of radio and TV
broadcast technologies were allowed in the past to attend committees meetings, but only by invitation and
as observers.
In Mexico, the Government adopted the ATSC’s standard for digital terrestrial television as part of its
September 2010 strategy for digital switch-over.  is standard was adopted without public discussion or the
participation of all industry stakeholders.
5.2.2 Gatekeepers in Digital Broadcasting
ere have been many problems with gatekeeping in broadcasting, but digitization has introduced further
complications, because there is no clear rule on licensing. At the same time, the high prices of digital
equipment represent another obstacle to the growth of community radio.
5.2.3 Transmission Networks
Televisa was permitted to operate as a monopoly from 1970 to 1993.  e entrance of TV Azteca (Canal
7 and 13) in 1993 put an end to the monopoly. Since then, the duopoly has been privileged. Most of the
full-power TV stations in Mexico are operated as repeaters, which are owned by the two TV groups. Smaller
repeaters are controlled and run by municipality-based organizations.
5.3 Telecommunications
5.3.1 Telecoms and News
So far, the dominant TV stations have managed to bar the access of telecoms to broadcast content, including
news.
One problem aff ecting competition is the lack of specifi c regulation for broadcasting on free-to-air channels
(by dominant operators such as Televisa and Television Azteca) of restricted, pay-TV platforms such as cable,
satellite, and microwave, or through other technologies (such as mobile telephony or IPTV).  is legal
vacuum led the direct-to-home (DTH) television company DirecTV to leave the Mexican market at the end
of 2004, in the face of the impossibility of rebroadcasting nationwide free-to-air channels of Televisa, which
were exclusively rebroadcast by the competing company, Sky, in which Televisa has a majority stake.
95. Acuerdo para el estudio, evaluación y desarrollo de tecnologías digitales en materia de radiodifusión” (Agreement on the Study, Evaluation and
Development of Digital Technologies on the Subject of Radio Broadcasting), Diario Ofi cial de la Nación, 20 July 1999.
57OPEN SOCIETY MEDIA PROGRAM 2011
e situation has changed in recent years following the imposition by the Federal Competition Commission
(Comisión Federal de Competencia, COFECO) on Televisa of a set of conditions for acquiring cable
television companies.  ese conditions included must-carry rules such as the obligation to broadcast in
non-discriminatory conditions on all its networks the entire content of free-to-air television stations at these
stations’ request, and must-off er rules such as the obligation of free-to-air stations such as Televisa to off er
their content in non-discriminatory conditions to all newly-entered, restricted, pay-TV platforms upon the
latter’s request.
COFECO’s resolution also established the obligation on Televisa to transmit over DTH platforms those
channels which cover at least 30 percent of the country. As far as local channels transmitted through satellite
television are concerned, the “carry one, carry all” obligation was imposed on Televisa, prohibiting it from
discriminating against local free-to-air TV channels.96
COFECO stated that concentration in the television sector would be allowed in terms of mergers and alliances
between pay-TV companies and free-to-air television networks, if Televisa complied with the provision to
grant access on its channels and to its content to all the free-to-air or paid-for television companies that
have requested such access, in non-discriminatory conditions.  us, Televisa started to make its free-to-air
channels, together with channels on its 16 paid-for television brands, available to other operators in 2008.
But it made these channels available in packages, with a set of strings attached aimed at barring access to
Telmex, the main operator of fi xed and mobile telephony, which is controlled by Carlos Slim.  ey did this
by stating that Televisa’s programs could be aired via cable and satellite, but not through IPTV, which Telmex
off ers. Surprisingly, COFECO did not oppose this move. Close to 170 cable TV companies bought content
from Televisa, and COFECO eventually approved Televisa’s domination.97 e main concern and surprise of
this COFECO decision is that it barred the way to Telmex’s entry to the pay-TV sector. Second, this decision
helped perpetuate Televisa’s dominance in the sector.  e government policies in telecoms look as if they are
made to bolster Televisa’s position against Telmex instead of boosting competition.
In 2008, a new DTH company entered the market.  is was Dish México, a joint venture of the Mexican
MVS and U.S. company EchoStar, but it has not reached any agreement to rebroadcast Televisas free-to-air
channels, because it judges that Televisa’s packages are too expensive. Dish México’s TV service is low-cost,
at MXN149 (roughly US$11) a month.  erefore, the acquisition of Televisa packages is not aff ordable for
Dish. As of June 2010, Dish had a total of 1.7 million subscribers.98
96. In other words, if Televisa decides to air a free-to-air local channel on its satellite platforms, it will have the obligation to transmit all the channels
in that area to avoid disadvantaging local channels (CFC, press release 06-2007).
97. G.S. Plata, “Fortalecer a Televisa para debilitar a Telmex” (Strengthen Televisa to Weaken Telmex), “Telecom and Media” column, El Universal,
Finance, 20 May 2008, p. 8.
98. A. Aguilar, “De Swaan va por la presidencia de Cofetel” (De Swaan goes for presidency of Cofetel), “Names, names and names” column, El
Universal, Cartera, 2 June 2010, p. B-3.
MAPPING DIGITAL MEDIA MEXICO58
5.3.2 Pressure of Telecoms on News Providers
As of June 2010, the dominant fi xed telephone operator Telmex,99 with more than 80 percent of this
market, did not off er pay-TV because there is a clause in its license conditions that prevents it.  e federal
government has only authorized Telmex to provide double-play service packages of telephony and internet.
Telmex committed to ensure number portability for end-users and fair interconnection and interoperability
conditions for alternative operators, as preconditions for being allowed to off er more services, according to
the convergence agreement of 2006, which also established in what conditions cable companies can off er
xed telephony, internet, and content distribution in a triple-play package.100
In contrast, cable companies and the rest of telecoms are permitted, through their infrastructure, to distribute
audiovisual and internet content. Telmex insists that it has complied with the three conditions of number
portability, interconnection, and interoperability, but the government says that other companies are still
complaining about problems with the interconnection of their networks with Telmex’s.101
Since 2007, Telmex has been planning to launch its own IPTV platform. It has readied the marketing,
business, and programming plan, but opposition from Televisa and the National Chamber of the Cable
Telecommunications Industry (Cámara Nacional de la Industria de Telecomunicaciones por Cable, CANITEC)
has weighed greatly on the decision of the federal government.
Telmex TV, on the other hand, started to become known in other countries in Latin America such as Peru,
Chile, and Colombia. In 2009, Telmex acquired two cable television companies in Colombia. In Peru and
Colombia, Telmex TV is off ered by cable while in Chile it is broadcast by satellite. Telmex TV airs only third-
party programming.  e company does not produce any audiovisual content in those countries.
At the end of 2008, Telmex started to upload programs of the Telmex channel Uno TV News through its
Prodigy web portal. Uno TV News has limited itself to off ering two news bulletins of 15 minutes at 1.00 p.m.
and at 6.00 p.m. Telmex decided to keep a low profi le with this service so as not to irritate cable operators,
which might fi nd legal ground to sue the telco. Eventually, these operators started to criticize the initiative.
Uno TV news is an online service only, with poor picture quality; it does not air exclusive stories or
interviews, nor does it report on its competitors or on the company’s own off ers. Nevertheless, CANITEC
lodged a complaint with the SCT and COFETEL, arguing that Telmex was in breach of its telecoms license
conditions. In response, the director of Telmexs legal and regulatory aff airs, Javier Mondragón, said that
99. It is important to understand that Telmex is the only operator in Mexico that could provide portability, interconnection, and interoperability.
It was a monopoly operator when the government privatized it in 1991, giving it possession of the national telecoms infrastructure. Since then,
Telmex has invested in this infrastructure.
100. Acuerdo de convergencia de servicios fi jos de telefonía local y televisión y/o audio restringidos que se proporcionan a través de redes públicas
alámbricas e inalámbricas” (Accord of convergence of fi xed local telephony and television and/or restricted audio services that are provided
through wired and wireless public networks), Diario Ofi cial de la Nación, 3 October 2006.
101. G.S. Plata, “Telmex TV” (Telmex TV), “Telecom and Media” column, El Universal, Finance, 29 January 2008.
59OPEN SOCIETY MEDIA PROGRAM 2011
through the decision to launch this service online, Telmex was exercising its constitutional right to freedom
of expression. He also argued that web companies such as Yahoo!, YouTube or Google or content producers
such as Sony, Warner or Disney do not have a license to distribute their content in Mexico.102 At the time of
writing, there has been no offi cial decision on the case.  e company continues to air its news bulletin on the
internet. It also sends news via text messages to its mobile telephony clients.
5.4 Assessments
e system of frequency allocation has been criticized in recent years because it favors certain companies
or business groups. Only in 2006, with the amended Federal Radio and Television Act and the Federal
Telecommunications Act, was a tender procedure for granting broadcast frequencies established, in line with
the procedure for telecoms licenses. Before, these frequencies had been assigned at discretion, based on a
tender published in the Offi cial Gazette of the Federation.  ese changes are part of the largest democratic
transition that the Mexican political system has ever experienced.
Since 2006, however, the government has not launched any tenders to assign broadcast frequencies despite
repeated demands from various social and political and actors, who argued for boosting competition to the
duopoly of Televisa and Television Azteca in the television sector, and for the position of public service and
community media.
When it comes to allocating frequencies for non-commercial entities, every time COFETEL issues a favorable
opinion to associations or institutions that request a frequency, the federal government obstructs it via the
Secretary of the Interior. In recent years, some 140 applications for frequencies have been submitted to
COFETEL, and most of them have not received a response.103 At the same time, the Ministry of the Interior
has closed dozens of community radio stations that operate without licenses.  ey do this by means of violent
police operations that put the lives of the communicators at risk. During 2009, indigenous peoples and
other social activists from political organizations who continued to broadcast were taken to court.  e World
Association of Community Radio Broadcasters (Asociación Mundial de Radios Comunitarias, AMARC),
Mexico, estimates that some 200 community broadcasters currently operate without authorization.104
Mexico has not yet achieved appropriate spectrum regulation. In its current form, this regulation still presents
a lot of gaps. For example, it does not help to ensure a healthier level of competition, allowing for numerous
monopolies in various segments (see section 6). Moreover, spectrum allocation policy is responsible for the fact
that accessibility of services is dictated solely by the market and is not seen as a public service or from a public
102. G.S. Plata, “Telmex y su canal de noticias” (Telmex and its news channels), “Telecom and Media” column, El Universal, Finance, 24 February
2009.
103. AMEDI, “Report on right to information 2010,” Mexico, 2010, mimeo, p. 4.
104. AMARC AL, Annual Report 2009 on Diversity and Pluralism of Radio Broadcasting in ALC, Uruguay, 2009.
MAPPING DIGITAL MEDIA MEXICO60
interest perspective. Finally, spectrum allocation does not address the socio-economic gaps and divisions in
society, which is the key reason for the diff erences in the speed of embracing digital technologies.
ere is no reference to the public interest, public service values or socio-cultural objectives in the policy on
spectrum allocation. A reference to public interest is made only in the Federal Act of Telecommunication, in
the context of infrastructure operations.  e tenders for frequency allocation described in this section and the
moves in terms of allocation of digital spectrum for broadcasting show the logic behind government thinking
on spectrum, in which public interest does not play any role whatsoever. When it came to privileging Televisa
in the tender for spectrum in 2010, the Calderón administration argued that this “new” operator would
generate competition in the telecoms sector and bring down prices for telecoms services.  e big problem
here is that Televisa already holds a dominant position in all the media markets and wields immense political
and economic power.
61OPEN SOCIETY MEDIA PROGRAM 2011
6. Digital Business
6.1 Ownership
6.1.1 Legal Developments in Media Ownership
Legislation on media ownership has not changed in the past fi ve years. In fact, the reform of this legislation
has been at the forefront of demands by civil society organizations and of some political parties.  ey argue
that there is an urgent need to change the legal conditions that allow large media to concentrate horizontally,
vertically, and diagonally in all the media markets. Grupo Televisa and Grupo Salinas (the owner of TV
Azteca) are examples of this unhealthy situation.
6.1.2 New Entrants in the News Market
Two signifi cant new players have entered the news content market in the past fi ve years. One is a new TV
channel called Cadena Tres, which entered the broadcast television market in 2007 following the purchase
by Grupo Imagen of Channel 28 in Monterrey. Grupo Imagen owns Cadena Tres. Nevertheless, Cadena
Tress audience share continues to be minimal. Its most watched programs do not reach more than 2–3 rating
points and its average audience share a year is 1–1.7 percent.105 e channel is available terrestrially only
in the metropolitan area of the city of Monterrey and through cable in the rest of the country. Among the
positive aspects of the launch of this channel is its alliance with the independent producer Argos to distribute
ction series and soap operas, which are expected to help the independent production sector.  e second new
entrant is a cable TV news channel from Grupo Multimedios, which owns the newspaper Milenio Diario
and magazine Milenio.  e group’s all-news TV channel, named also Milenio, started in October 2008.  e
entrance of these two new news providers is a positive development as it contributes to enriching the public
sphere.
105. IBOPE AGB, 2009.
MAPPING DIGITAL MEDIA MEXICO62
6.1.3 Ownership Consolidation
Media ownership has not changed signifi cantly during the past fi ve years. In some sectors, Grupo Televisa
increased its dominance. In the pay-TV sectors, this was made possible by COFECO’s decision in 2008 to
allow Televisa to buy shares and form alliances with cable distribution companies in diff erent states of the
republic.106
For years, academics, civil society organizations, intellectuals, opposition political parties, and advertisers
have called on the federal government to award more nationwide broadcast licenses through public tenders,
in order to off er the public more content options. Mexico has a high level of concentration in broadcast
television, where Grupo Televisa and Televisión Azteca hold 94 percent of the television frequencies. In
addition, both networks produce centrally the entire programming that is distributed at local level, so
independent producers have no chance to reach wide audiences. In the case of radio, the situation has not
changed much either. Between 1988 and 2007, the control of more than 70 percent of all the licenses for
radio stations was in the hands of 10 radio broadcasting groups.107
One case in radio illustrating how private operators prevent pluralism in the news off ering is the Spanish
Grupo Prisa, which operates one of the largest nationwide news radio networks in Mexico in terms of
listenership, Radiopolis.108 e dispute started in 2008 when Grupo Prisa decided to rescind the contract of
its journalist Carmen Aristeguí, who produced and presented one of the most popular shows in the morning
slot from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m.  e news show was known for giving a signifi cant amount of space and fair
treatment to political activists and issues that no other station was systematically following. For example,
in the last presidential election campaign of 2006, the show gave voice to leftist parties and their main
candidate, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, as well as to dissenting voices such as Subcomandante Marcos,
spokesperson of the EZLN.  e show also covered sensitive issues such as the reform of media legislation, the
rape of indigenous women in the State of Veracruz and Coahuila by the military, cases of pederasty among
Catholic clergy, and abortion rules in the Federal District.
Prisas reason for dropping Aristeguí was the existence of divergences between the stations editorial line and
the journalist’s line. Originally, Grupo Prisa argued that the programs production was too expensive.  e
Aristeguí story stirred a massive debate on issues such as social responsibility and freedom of expression.  is
story is also an example of how horizontal concentration between Grupo Prisa and Grupo Televisa impeded
plurality and diversity in news coverage.
106. R. Gómez and G. Sosa, “La concentración en el mercado de la televisión restringida en México” (Concentration of the pay-TV television market
in Mexico), Comunicación y Sociedad (University of Guadalajara) 14 (Nueva época) (2010), pp. 109–142.
107. In Mexico, there are 854 stations that operate on AM, of which 759 are commercial and 95 non-commercial.  e latter include some commu-
nity radio broadcasters, such as states, governments, and educational institutions.
108.  e Spanish Grupo Prisa signed an alliance with Grupo Televisa to operate the radio station Radiopolis after acquiring 49 percent of the shares
in Televisas radio division back in 2011 for a total of US$50 million.
63OPEN SOCIETY MEDIA PROGRAM 2011
A major player with notable growth is Grupo Multimedios, which in recent years has expanded its dominance
in the area of newspaper publishing, with eight regional dailies across Mexico, including the nationwide daily
Milenio.  e group has traditionally operated local television and radio stations in the north-eastern states,
Nuevo León and Coahuila.
6.1.4 Telecoms Business and the Media
Over the last four years, Grupo Televisa has gained a larger share in the market of subscription television,
reaching almost 50 percent of television households in 2009, through its cable companies, Cablevisión,
Cablemas, and TVI, and through its company Sky on satellite television. In addition, thanks to the introduction
of triple-play services, the group became the country’s second-largest provider of telecoms services, including
internet connections and telephone fi xed lines, after the giant telecom Telmex. (See Table 9.)
Table 9.
Companies of Grupo Televisa on the pay-TV Market, 200
Companies No. of subscribers
Cablevisión 605,339
Cablemas 879,923
TVI 227,936
SKY (DTH) 1,793,388
Total Grupo Televisa 3,506,586
Others 4,106,444
Total 7,613,000
Source: Prepared on the basis of information from COFETEL and Grupo Televisa, Q3 2009 Report.
Another link between telecoms and media is the interest that Grupo Salinas, owner of Television Azteca, has
in the mobile and fi xed-line sectors through its companies Iusacell and Unefon. Both these companies off er
mobile phone services, including 3G, with Unefon also running fi xed-line networks.  e two companies
control together some 7 percent of the mobile phone market.
Grupo Televisa and Televisión Azteca are investing massively in the telecoms sector with expectations of using
digital convergence to beef up their profi ts and to fi nd new platforms for distributing media content. At the
same time, the largest telecoms operator, Telmex, is trying to enter the content business by developing its
own IPTV platform.
6.1.5 Transparency of Media Ownership
Over the past decade, the two large players in the TV market, TV Azteca and Grupo Televisa, have set a range
of policies to allow their shareholders to get informed yearly on fi nancial deals, revenue fl ow, expenditures,
and business strategies.  is information is available on their websites in the investor relations pages, in
reporting formats aligned with the requirements of the stock exchanges in Mexico, the United States and
MAPPING DIGITAL MEDIA MEXICO64
Spain, where their shares are fl oated. e two new players in the news media market, Milenio TV and
Cadena Tres, do not off er this mechanism of transparency. In general, there are no mechanisms for ensuring
transparency of media ownership. Except for their obligation, like that of any other companies, to report on
their owners to the Ministry of the Treasury solely for tax purposes, media companies are not required to
report any changes in their ownership to any state authorities.
6.2 Media Funding
6.2.1 Public and Private Funding
e total advertising market in Mexico in 2009 was worth MXN44.9 billion (US$3.4 billion), of which
60 percent went to broadcast television, mainly Televisa and TV Azteca.  is trend, according to the
PriceWaterhouseCoopers consultancy, is set to continue in the coming years when the advertising spend is
predicted to grow at an average annual rate of some 6 percent.109 In addition to commercial advertising, TV
Azteca and Televisa obtain signifi cant funding through government advertising, which is distributed at their
discretion. In 2009, the federal and state governments spent close to US$360 million on advertising in various
media. TV Azteca and Televisa pulled in 10.5 percent and 14.38 percent of that amount, respectively.110 (See
Figure 18.)
Figure 18.
Distribution of public spending on advertising in the media, by sector, 2009
Source: Bravo, “2009,” p. 37.
e public media with nationwide coverage are fi nanced through direct subvention, and their fi nancial
health depends mainly on decisions by the president and parliament to grant them the resources necessary
for their operations (see section 2). Comparing the budgets of the two public broadcasters with government
spending on private media, it is obvious that there are resources to better fi nance public television and plan
the digitization of public service media and the expansion of their footprint, as explained below.
109. PricewaterhouseCoopers, “Global Entertainment and Media Outlook, 2008-2012,”.New York: Bowne Business Communication, 2009.
110. Bravo, “2009,” p. 36.
Other 24.30%International media 17.10%
Magazines 3%
State newspapers 2.30%
Nationwide nespapers 5.20%
Radio 18.70%
TV 29.40%
65OPEN SOCIETY MEDIA PROGRAM 2011
e state is one of the main advertisers for various private media, which has a negative eff ect on pluralism
and independence. In some cases, particularly local media, this type of spending is a form of political control,
but at the same time, in other cases, there are media that survive only thanks to this form of funding, that
at the same time is good for diversity. (See section 4). To establish the impact of this type of funding on the
independence and diversity of the media, clearer rules on the relation between the media, government, and
funding should be introduced.
Several proposals to improve the sustainability and independence of the media have been put forward by
experts and civil society organizations. One of these calls on the state and federal governments to stop
spending on private media and channel those resources directly to the public service media to improve
their news programs. Another proposal is to allow the state to fund private media, but the spending would
be decided by a council or board according to criteria responding to the public interest.  e same body
should monitor state spending on the media. It was even proposed that this spending should be subject to
congressional approval.  e aim of these recommendations is to achieve transparency in allocating public
resources. If rules on such spending are violated, the law should provide not only civil penalties, but also
criminal ones, according to various recommendations submitted to Congress.111
e Ministry of the Interior is in charge of issuing general guidelines on planning, authorizing, coordinating,
supervising, and evaluating the public relations strategies of the federal government. At the same time, legal
provisions ensure impartiality in decisions on public spending. For example, the 2007 amended constitution
stated that state employees at federal, state, and municipal levels as well as in the Federal District and its
delegations, must allocate public resources under their responsibility “with impartiality”, and without hurting
fair competition between political parties. Paid advertising, according to the constitution, should “be of an
institutional nature and have informational, educational or social orientation purposes.112
A new trend that has begun to aff ect the credibility of journalism is the purchase by political parties,
politicians, and some private companies, without invoice or receipt, of stories, reports, and interviews on
radio and television that are not labeled as such but aired as general information.  e IFE has analyzed dozens
of such cases in recent years, and in May 2010 it imposed the fi rst fi ne for such practices on a candidate of the
government of Oaxaca and on a television company that broadcast an “infomercial” for the said candidate.113
111. J. Cárdenas, “Es necesario legislar la publicidad gubernamental” (It is necessary to legislate governmental advertising), Zócalo, May 2010, avail-
able at
http://www.revistazocalo.com.mx/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=579 (accessed 15 June 2010).
112. Bravo, “2009,” p. 37.
113. A. Urrutia, “Uso rampante de los informerciales con fi nes politicos, denuncian” (Rampant use of infomercials for political ends, they charge), La
Jornada, 17 May 2010, available at http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2010/05/17/index.php?section=politica&article=013n1pol (accessed 15 June
2010).
MAPPING DIGITAL MEDIA MEXICO66
6.2.2 Other Sources of Funding
Funding in the media continues to fall into traditional patterns. No new types of funding have emerged in
recent years.
6.3 Media Business Models
6.3.1 Changes in Media Business Models
Media conglomerates have been mainly those that, forced by digitization and the economic crisis, have
developed diversifi cation strategies aimed at improving the profi tability of their companies. “Maximization
of revenues prevails to such an extent as a business criterion that news has to be produced by a single reporter
for diff erent media, in an infl exible routine in which technology and time, the latter frenetic and intense,
become a tyranny for professional practice.”114
In recent years, media conglomerates have increasingly produced content for diff erent platforms: written
press, internet, radio, and television.  is has led to a major reorganization of their production process,
reducing costs by using the same staff for producing content for more platforms. One company that has
signifi cantly diversifi ed and converged its newsrooms is Grupo Imagen, which is part of Grupo Empresarial
Angeles, owned by Olegario Vázquez Raña, an entrepreneur who also owns hospitals, hotels, real-estate
companies, and fi nancial rms. Grupo Imagen controls radio broadcasters, the television Channel Cadena
Tres, the daily newspaper Excélsior newspaper, and its website ExOnline.
Analyzing the group’s activities, Meneses noted:
a clear trend toward the devaluation of news and a growing quest for the print media to fi nd
informative formulas beyond the daily story, which would be found by adhering to journalistic
investigation and the rupture of the agenda dictated by elite interests, but this is still far from being
obvious, since at least in the universe of Mexican daily newspapers, statements are the order of the
day of the front pages each morning and journalistic investigation is a pending task.115
is strategy has been employed by other multimedia groups in the country that have started to converge
their newsrooms. As a result, journalistic production has grown, but the quality has not improved.  ere is
more news content in Mexico, suffi cient to fi ll the spaces opened by the new media, particularly the internet.
But the journalistic routine in information-gathering has not changed signifi cantly.
According to INEGI, the media market declined by 2.5 percent in 2009, the most signifi cant drop since
2003, as measured by GDP.116 e economist Francisco Vidal said that the media sectors most aff ected by
digitization and the economic crisis are traditional media (television, radio, and print), and also, despite
the constant growth of broadband subscribers, the internet subscription customer base. Music and video
114. Meneses, “El caso de Grupo Imagen,” pp. 3–4.
115. Meneses, “El caso de Grupo Imagen,” p. 24.
116. See http://dgcnesyp.inegi.org.mx/cgi-win/bdiecoy.exe/492?s=est&c=12343 (accessed 12 September 2010).
67OPEN SOCIETY MEDIA PROGRAM 2011
producers and distributors were not greatly aff ected by the crisis.117 e media sector, however, was less hit
by the economic downturn than the economy in general, which reported a record drop of 6.5 percent in
2009, year-on-year. It is increasingly evident that the groups which diversifi ed more, such as Televisa, which
acquired cable television companies and developed new businesses in telecoms, were in better shape to face
the crisis.118 (See Table 10.)
Table 10.
Sales revenues of the largest media groups, MXN million
Company 2008 2009 2009* Change (year-on-year) %
Nominal Real
Televisa 49,095 53,519 50,826 9.0 3.5
Telmex Internet Segment 13,213 16,080 15,271 21.7 15.6
TV Azteca 9,815 9,968 9,467 1.6 –3.6
Megacable 5,854 6,895 6,548 17.8 11.9
Cablevisión 4,762 5,277 5,012 10.8 5.2
El Universal 1,552 1,521 1,444 –2.1 –7.0
Grupo Radio Centro 735 786 746 6.9 1.5
Note: * Expressed in real prices (the National Consumer Price Index was used).
Source: Rueda de la Fortuna, available at http://ruedadelafortuna.wordpress.com/2010/03/08/reportes-fi nancieros-de-las-empre-
sas-de-medios-en-2009/ (accessed 1 October 2010).
In contrast, traditional media companies that are less diversifi ed seem to be the most aff ected by economic
crisis. Such is the case of El Universal and Grupo Radio. One of the most important indicators that refl ect the
economic health of the media conglomerates is their growing number of employees (see Table 11).
Table 11.
Number of employees in media companies, 2008–2009
Company 2008 2009 Change (2009/2008) %
Televisa 22,528 24,362 8.1
Cablevisión 2,594 2,931 13.0
Megacable 8,252 8,940 8.3
Radio Centro 577 562 –2.6
TV Azteca 2,992 3,115 4.1
El Universal 1,178 1,075 –8.7
Source: Prepared by the report’s authors based on information from the Mexican Securities Exchange.
117. F. Vidal Bonifaz, “Los Medios mexicanos ante la crisis económica” (Mexican media overcome the crisis), La Rueda de la Fortuna, 10 March
2010, available at ruedadelafortuna.wordpress.com (accessed 27 June 2010) (hereafter Vidal Bonifaz, “Los Medios mexicanos”).
118. Although all companies saw a decline in their profi ts in 2008, no media company incurred losses that year except for Cablevisión, which lost
MXN671 million as a result mainly of the increase in costs (exchange variations, among them), and of some failed fi nancial transactions (e.g.
cancellation of a commercial loan), in Vidal Bonifaz, “Los Medios mexicanos.
MAPPING DIGITAL MEDIA MEXICO68
News programs on radio and television are among the most commercially attractive program strands.
erefore, media tend to charge high rates for advertising on these programs compared with other
information programs. At the same time, media companies are striving to increase their revenues from their
online platforms, many of them experimenting with internet paywalls.  e newspapers Reforma and El Norte,
for example, off er access through paid subscription.
6.4 Assessments
Digitization in itself has not aff ected the monopolies and dominant positions of media companies. On the
contrary, the award of a raft of digital terrestrial licenses to the dominant TV operators Televisa and Televisión
Azteca, without charging fees, has closed doors to opportunities that digitization should bring by opening the
radio-frequency spectrum.  is situation is mainly the result of the lack of political will on the parts of both
government and Congress to adopt a public policy aimed at democratizing Mexicos communications system,
exploiting the advantages brought by digitization in terms of more effi cient spectrum use.
Instead of enhancing plurality and raising the profi le of independent media, whether community or public,
digitization, particularly broadcast switch-over, has so far led to smothering the operations of such media.
Although digital switch-over has not yet begun, it can be said that the process of transition to digital
broadcasting has begun in Mexico with the launch of test broadcast by private networks. Public service and
community outlets desperately need funding and a supportive policy. It is estimated, for example, that a total
of US$650 million would be needed to digitize the not-for-profi t broadcasters.119
In addition, cross-ownership concentration continues to grow, with Grupo Televisa in particular further
bolstering its position. Televisa’s business model is based on incorporating all lines of media production and
controlling a large number of distribution platforms. Such a model has negative repercussions on independent
producers because Televisa controls the distribution chain and relies mostly on its own production.120
Media companies and conglomerates, with the exception of those that charge for their services such as pay-
TV, obtain their income mainly through commercial or government advertising.  is is the main source of
revenue for radio and TV stations, newspapers, magazines, and internet websites.  e use of digital platforms
has not substantially changed the business model of traditional news media. For some media companies it
is imperative to boost their income by taking advantage of convergent or multi-channel distribution.  e
models diff er widely. For example, the Reforma newspaper, since it launched its internet version in 2000,
charges for its service, while other newspapers such as El Universal and La Jornada off er their internet content
free, trusting in high visitor numbers to drive up advertising revenue.
119. F. Vidal Bonifaz, “El costo del apagón analógico” ( e Cost of Analogue Switch-over), La Rueda de la Fortuna, 13 October 2010, available at
ruedadelafortuna.wordpress.com. (Accessed 20 October 2010.) (hereafter Vidal Bonifaz, “El costo del apagón analógico”).
120. R. Gómez, “Políticas e industrias audiovisuales en México. Apuntes y diagnóstico” (Audiovisual policies and industries in Mexico. Analyses and
diagnosis), Comunicación y Sociedad (University of Guadalajara) 10 (Nueva época ) (2008), pp. 191–224.
69OPEN SOCIETY MEDIA PROGRAM 2011
None of these companies discloses how their sales on new platforms have evolved in recent years. However,
data from fi nancial reports of Mexican companies fl oated on the stock exchange show that the income media
companies pulled in from digital platforms has not been signifi cant to date.121 Even El Universal, one of
the most expansive and innovative outlets on new platforms, continues to generate sales revenues mainly
from its print version, according to sources from the newspaper consulted by the present authors. Another
major experience in the digital world is Grupo Multimedios Estrellas de Oro, which developed the Milenio
concept encompassing today the nationwide weekly Milenio Semanal, eight regional daily newspapers (one
for each of Mexico City, Monterrey, Guadalajara, Tampico, State of Mexico, Torreón, León, and Puebla), a
TV channel covering Monterrey terrestrially and other parts of the country through cable and satellite, and
the internet portal milenio.com, which brings together content from its print publications and broadcasts of
its TV channel and news streams.  e company claims that it has increased its advertising revenue thanks to
its website.
121.  e Mexican media companies quoted on the Mexican stock exchange are Televisa, Televisión Azteca, Megacable, Cablevisión, and Grupo Radio
Centro.
MAPPING DIGITAL MEDIA MEXICO70
7. Policies, Laws and Regulators
7.1 Policies and Laws
7.1.1 Digital Switch-over of Terrestrial Transmission
7.1.1.1 Access and Aff ordability
e timeframe for digital switch-over has been adopted. It includes obligations on digital mirror channels
for simulcasting, but it lacks incentives for the development of digital technology, which is refl ected in the
low penetration of digital terrestrial take-up. According to INEGI, 3.6 million households have a digital
television set, which represents 13.6 percent of the TV households in 2009. However, fewer than half of
those 3.6 million households, namely 1.6 million, receive digital content terrestrially.  e remainder access
TV content via cable and satellite TV, games or videos.122 COFETEL stated in one of its documents that low
penetration of digital equipment begs for “strategies that encourage the acquisition of this type of television
set.”123
e lack of incentives and legal provisions on digital switch-over was an opportunity seized in the beginning
of 2009 by Television Azteca to launch HiTV, a multi-channel service encompassing some 20 channels.  e
project generated strong controversy because of the questionable legality of the move.124 In parallel with
this, Azteca marketed a set-top box that was used to access HiTV.  e cost of this device was approximately
MXN2,000 (US$153) and was sold in the Elektra stores, a chain controlled by Ricardo Salinas Pliego, the
122. COFETEL, “1.6 hogares tienen capacidad para recibir TDT” (1.6 million households have the capacity to receive DTT), press release 04/2010,
25 January 2010.
123. COFETEL, “Objetivos de la política de la TDT” (Objectives of the DTT policy), available at http://www.cofetel.gob.mx/wb/Cofetel_2008/
Cofe_objetivos_de_la_politica (accessed 5 September 2010).
124. On 11 May 2010, a note was published on the front pages of three newspapers owned by Grupo Reforma, Reforma, El Norte, and Mural, which
emphasized the opinion that the HiTV service was illegal. Television Azteca argued that the launch of the service did not violate the Radio and
Television Act and Rules, and that its goal was to shatter the monopoly on the pay-TV market. Azteca’s lawyers argued that Televisa, Sky, and
Cablevision, their partners Cablemas and Television Internacional, as well as the company part of CANITEC, did everything possible to main-
tain their monopoly on the pay-TV market to prevent the cost of the service from falling. In a letter to President Calderon and the Minister of
the SCT, Juan Molinar, CANITEC continued to argue that the launch of HiTV was illegal, and called on the government to take action.
71OPEN SOCIETY MEDIA PROGRAM 2011
holder of the Television Azteca broadcast license. In mid-2010 the company reported that 50,000 set-top
boxes were sold in the Federal District.125
In July 2009, COFETEL began administrative proceedings against TV Azteca for “supposed violations of
the Federal Radio and Television Act through unauthorized provision of services other than those specifi ed in
their license contract and in the Agreement for the Switchover to Digital Terrestrial Television.” In December
2009, COFETEL reversed its initial ruling, saying that it had no grounds to sanction TV Azteca because the
service was in line with the law and policy on digital switch-over. In February 2010, the SCT ruled against
COFETELs decision on HiTV, calling it an illicit service in violation of the Federal Telecommunications
Act, because HiTV could be considered as a telecoms service. But TV Azteca used the right to amparo,126
which allows for a postponement of the resolution. At the time of writing, no fi nal ruling had been made in
this case and the service continued to be provided.127
In the case of radio, after numerous statements and positions expressed by the antitrust watchdog COFECO
and the Federal Bureau of Regulatory Improvement (Comisión Federal de Mejora Regulatoria, COFEMER),
COFETEL published in 2008 the Guidelines for the Switch-over to Digital Terrestrial Radio for radio stations
located near the country’s northern border.128 Broadcasters located within 320 km of the northern border
may choose to carry out the digital switch-over in synchronization with the U.S. In-Band On-Channel
(IBOC) standard, commercially known as HD Radio.129 e rest of the country must await the assessment
of other digital standards before a decision on the switch-over is made. At the time of writing, no additional
criteria for licensing or incentives for commercial and non-commercial licensees have been adopted. No open
public discussion was held on guidelines or policy for the introduction of digital terrestrial radio in Mexico.
By June 2010, a total of 25 stations located along the northern border were ready to transmit in HD Radio
(hybrid digital/analog) signal.
7.1.1.2 Subsidies for Equipment
In September 2010, the Calderón administration established an inter-ministerial commission to organize
subsidies for households that cannot aff ord set-top boxes, antennas or digital sets.130 e initial fi gure for such
subsidies that has been fl oated in ministerial circles is US$60.131
125. Notimex, “TV Azteca mantiene operación de HiTV” (TV Azteca maintains operation of HiTV), El Universal, 9 March 2010, available at http://
www.eluniversal.com.mx/notas/664723.html (accessed 10 March 2011).
126.  e right to amparo ( recurso de amparo) is a constitutional tool to empower state courts to protect individuals against possible abuses by the state.
It is defi ned in articles 103 and 107 of the constitution.
127. C. Avina, “Sanciona la SCT a radiodifusoras” ( e SCT sanctions television broadcasters), El Sol de Mexico, 24 February 2010, available at
http://www.oem.com.mx/laprensa/notas/n1531786.htm (accessed 2 July 2010).
128. Published in the Offi cial Gazette of the Federation, 14 May 2008.
129. IBOC is a hybrid means of transmitting digital and analog radio broadcast signals simultaneously on the same frequency.
130. “Decreto por el que se establecen las acciones que deberán llevarse a cabo por la Administración Pública Federal para concretar la transición a
la Televisión Digital Terrestre” (Order laying down measures to be carried out by the Federal Public Administration to fi nalize the transition to
Digital Terrestrial Television), Offi cial Gazette of the Federation, 2 September 2010.
131. Vidal Bonifaz, “El costo del apagón analógico,” La Rueda de la Fortuna, 13 October 2010, available at ruedadelafortuna.wordpress.com (ac-
cessed 27 October 2010).
MAPPING DIGITAL MEDIA MEXICO72
7.1.1.3 Legal Provisions on Public Interest
e existing legal framework for digital switch-over, set by the Fox and Calderón administrations (2001–
2012), understands public interest mainly in terms of coverage and the need for the state to ensure deployment
of the technology. It does not spell out any guarantees in terms of public interest. (See these legal documents
in section 7.1.1.4.)
7.1.1.4 Public Consultation
e policy on digital switch-over in terrestrial TV broadcasting has been shaped by the needs of the
broadcasting industry, without the inclusion or participation of civil society.  e main policy documents
adopted during this process include:
Agreement on the study, evaluation and development of digital radio broadcasting technologies (Offi cial
Gazette of the Federation, 20 July 1999);
Agreement on the reservation of frequencies for research and development projects related to the
introduction of digital radio broadcasting (Offi cial Gazette of the Federation, 27 March 2000);
Agreement approving the technical standard for digital terrestrial television (DTT) and establishing the
policy for the switch-over to DTT (Offi cial Gazette of the Federation, 2 July 2004);
Order laying down measures to be carried out by the Federal Public Administration to fi nalize the
transition to DTT (Offi cial Gazette of the Federation, 2 September 2010).
e policy on digitization was not created at random, argues Maria de la Luz Casas. It is the result of
many decades of lobbying by large international capital groups and the media industry in general. Major
events that have contributed to the shape of this policy included the sale of Teléfonos de Mexico (Mexican
Telephone Company) to Carlos Slim in 1991 and the subsequent entrance of foreign telecoms businesses
such as AT&T and MCI Communications in Mexico, the 2003 modifi cations to the constitutions article
28 to permit foreign investment in Mexican telecoms, and the adoption of the Federal Telecommunications
Act in 1995, through which telecoms networks, radio-frequency spectrum, satellite communications, and
mobile telephony were opened to foreign buyers within caps of 49 percent, and without restrictions for
mobile telephony.132
e process of transition to digital broadcasting has been monitored by an advisory board created in 1999.
e Digital Radio Broadcasting Technologies Advisory Board comprises six members, three from the CIRT
and three from the SCT, and several non-voting honorary members, including representatives of the Ministry
of Public Education, Secretaria de Educación Pública, SEP), the Mexican Radio Institute (Instituto Mexicano
de la Radio, IMER) and the Network of Cultural and Education Broadcasters (see section 4). Some community
media asked to participate, but to date have not been given this opportunity.133
132. M. Casas Perez, “Economic policies, regulations and factors and policies related to information and communication technologies”, in Jose Carlos
Lozano Rendon, ed., Communications in Mexico: Diagnosis, balances and the rest. Mexico, CONEICC (Consejo Nacional para la Enseñanza y la
Investigación de las Ciencias de la Comunicación) and Monterrey Technological Institute, 2005, p. 276.
133. “Acuerdo para el estudio, evaluación y desarrollo de tecnologías digitales en materia de radiodifusión” (Agreement regarding the study, evaluation
and development of digital radio broadcasting technologies), Offi cial Gazette of the Federation, 20 July 1999.
73OPEN SOCIETY MEDIA PROGRAM 2011
7.1.2 The Internet
7.1.2.1 Regulation of News on the Internet
Freedom of expression is a guaranteed by article 6 of the constitution:134
e expression of ideas will not be subject to any legal or administrative inquisition
whatsoever, except in the event that the morals or rights of another are attacked, a crime
is committed or public order is disrupted; the right of reply will be exercised in the terms
provided by law.  e right to information will be guaranteed by the State.
e dissemination of news via the internet or mobile platforms is not specifi cally regulated. However, those
responsible for such content, journalists or media, are not exempt from civil responsibilities in the event that
“the morals or rights of another are attacked, a crime is committed or public order is disrupted,” based on
other laws.
Modifi cations in April 2006 to the Federal Codes of Criminal Procedures and Federal Crimes introduced
several provisions that aff ect news content dissemination and production:
e confi dentiality and protection of sources were safeguarded.  is guarantees that informants cannot
be obliged by any state authority to testify on information they possess.  is provision also extends to
attorneys, doctors, and clergymen.
Off enses by media were decriminalized, meaning that acts of slander, libel, and defamation committed
by journalists are now judged under the civil code.135
ese provisions were seen as positive for the journalistic profession. Nevertheless, the possibility remains that
independent journalists also writing on the internet may be sued for what “pain and “suff ering”, according
to the Civil Code, they infl ict on third parties. But they can be sued in civil rather than criminal courts. In
article 1916, the Federal Civil Code defi nes “pain and “suff ering” as the harm brought to a person in terms
of feelings, emotions, beliefs, dignity, honor, reputation, private life, physical aspect and appearance, and the
image which others have of them. Infl iction of pain and suff ering are punishable by material compensation
rather than imprisonment.136 e internet has made it possible for journalists to write about any subject with
greater independence and freedom in comparison with traditional media; however, reporting can be inhibited
by these Civil Code sanctions, which may foment self-censorship even when the journalists’ reporting covers
questionable actions of a public offi cial or celebrity.
134. “Political Constitution of the United States of Mexico,” available at http://www.cddhcu.gob.mx/LeyesBiblio/pdf/1.pdf (accessed 1 October
2010).
135. L. Franco, “Sacan del Código Penal calumnia, difamación e injuria; a salvo, secreto profesional de periodistas, médicos y abogados” (Take slan-
der, libel and defamation out of the Penal Code; free of liability, confi dentiality of sources of journalists, physicians, and attorneys), La Cronica
de Hoy, 19 April 2006, available at http://www.cronica.com.mx/nota.php?idc=236968 (accessed 30 June 2010).
136. Federal Civil Code, available at http://www.cddhcu.gob.mx/LeyesBiblio/pdf/2.pdf (accessed 24 October 2010).
MAPPING DIGITAL MEDIA MEXICO74
7.1.2.2 Legal Liability for Internet Content
In Mexico, as of September 2010, there was no legal provision on liability for internet content.
7.2 Regulators
7.2.1 Change in Content Regulation
Apart from modifi cations to the Penal Code (see section 7.1.2), the constitution, and COFIPE as part of the
2007 electoral reform (see section 4.4), no signifi cant amendment has been made to the regulatory framework
for content in print and electronic media, including digital media.
Print media are primarily regulated by the Press Act of 1917137 and by the Rules on Illustrated Magazines
and Publications of 1981.138 e agency in charge of sanctioning periodicals or magazines that violate the
Press Act is the Qualifying Commission of Illustrated Magazines and Publications (Comisión Califi cadora de
Publicaciones y Revistas Ilustradas, CCPRI), under the Ministry of State.  is body issues title certifi cates to
periodicals and magazines, and in the event that a publication does not comply with the Act, can declare
it unlawful, impose sanctions, and even prohibit its distribution. Provisions on what print media are not
allowed to do are nailed down in article 6 of the 1981 Rules:
Content that induces or foments vices or commits a crime in itself;
Topics that aff ect positive attitudes to work and education;
Description of initiatives through which entities achieve success by not complying with the legislation
and not respecting state institutions;
Content containing advice on methods used to violate legislation, moral principles, and good practices;
Stories that incite to direct or indirect contempt for or rejection of Mexican people, their aptitudes,
customs and traditions;
Texts that systematically employ off ensive language.
Nudity as well as articles against morality and education are also prohibited on the front page or back cover
of print media.
e internet is not subject to any specifi c regulations when it comes to news content. Nevertheless, individuals
who feel off ended by content published online can sue the author(s) for infl icted “pain and suff ering.” (See
section 7.1.2.1.)
137. “Ley sobre delitos de Imprenta,” Act on Press Crimes, available at www.diputados.gob.mx/LeyesBiblio/pdf/40.pdf (accesed 27 October 2010).
138. “Reglamento sobre publicaciones y revistas ilustradas” (Regulations on Illustrated Magazines and Publications), 13 July 1981, available at http://
www.stccpri.gob.mx/CCPRI-Docs/Reglamento-STCCPRI.pdf (accessed 26 October 2010).
75OPEN SOCIETY MEDIA PROGRAM 2011
Between 2006 and 30 June 2010, a total of 49 publications were declared illicit by the CCPRI mainly
because of infringing morality and attitudes to education.  e number of such publications, however, has
decreased: 13 in 2006, 24 in 2007, seven in 2008, four in 2009 and one in 2010.139
In TV and radio, content is primarily regulated by the Federal Radio and Television Act of 1960140 and
Regulations added to this Act in 2002.141 e agency responsible for implementing regulations in this sector,
including the application of sanctions, is the General Directorate of Radio, Television and Cinematography
(Dirección General de Radio, Televisión y Cinematografía, RTC), a body subordinate to the Ministry of Interior.
e RTC is tasked to initiate proceedings against broadcasters, which can lead to fi nes. e RTC can also
warn broadcasters about breaches of law that can be remedied.
On television, a total of 549 proceedings were carried out between 2002 and 2009. Of those, 80 percent
investigated Televisa (Televimex and Radiotelevisora de Mexico Norte) and Television Azteca combined.  e
main faults investigated by the RTC were “negative and disturbing infl uences on harmonious childhood
development,” “foul language,” “irregularities in broadcast contents” (such as surreptitious advertising), and
“government programming” (such as use of the airtime reserved to the state or political parties to broadcast
other programs).142
Between 2002 and 2009, a total of 677 proceedings were initiated against radio broadcasters. Some 70
percent of these proceedings concerned violations related to the refusal to broadcast government and political
party programming.  e remaining 30 percent were the result of other faults including “foul language” and
“misleading propaganda or advertising.”  e company with the greatest number of legal violations in the
radio sector was Radio Uno FM of Grupo Formula, with stations in the country’s major cities. It was followed
by Radio Iguala, airing in Iguala, Guerrero, which was sanctioned chiefl y for irregularities in broadcasting
political party programming, Radio Integral with stations across the nation, and Cadena Radiodifusora
Mexicana, a Televisa Radio company.143
7.2.2 Regulatory Independence
e regulatory mechanisms for both print media and broadcasting have not changed in the past fi ve years.
e two main media regulators are both directly subordinate to state institutions: the CCPRI is subordinate
to the Ministry of State while the RTC is under the Ministry of Interior. Both print and electronic media are
139. Declarations on unlawfulness, available at http://www.stccpri.gob.mx/Portal/PtMain.php?pagina=declaraciones-ilicitud (accessed 5 July 2010).
140. “Ley Federal de Radio y Televisión” (Radio and Television Act), available at http://www.diputados.gob.mx/LeyesBiblio/ (accessed 6 July 2010).
141. “Reglamento de la ley federal de radio y televisión, en materia de concesiones, permisos y contenido de las transmisiones de radio y televisión
(Regulations of the Federal Radio and Television Act in matters regarding radio and television broadcasting licenses, permits and content), avail-
able at http://www.sct.gob.mx/fi leadmin/normatividad/telecomunicaciones/2010/73%20Reglamento%20de%20la%20Ley%20Federal%20
de%20Radio%20y%20Televisi%F3n,%20en%20materia%20de%20Concesiones,%20Permisos%20y%20Contenido%20de%20las%20
Transmisiones%20de%20Radio%20y%20Tele.pdf (accessed 26 October 2010).
142. G. Sosa Plata and K..J. Godines, “Televisa la más sancionada” (Televisa, the most sanctioned), Zocalo 115 (September 2009), pp. 38–40 (here-
after Sosa Plata and Godines, “Televisa la más sancionada”).
143. Sosa Plata and Godines, “Televisa la más sancionada.
MAPPING DIGITAL MEDIA MEXICO76
regulated by the Ministry of the Interior through the provisions of the Press Act and the Regulation of Radio,
TV and Cinematography, last amended in 2002.
e CCPRI is tasked to ensure that publications operate legally. It is entitled to cancel the certifi cates of
registration of publications that do not comply with the provisions of the 2002 Press Act. It is also tasked to
assist other state authorities on request and to issue recommendations related to their expertise. e RTC used
to be known as the censorship offi ce. It is still criticized for inertia over decisions on the broadcasting sector.
e RTC has a broad range of functions and tasks. It issues certifi cates of origin for radio, television, and
lms, produced domestically or abroad, for commercial use. It also has a major say in reviewing applications
for permission to broadcast radio or television programs as well as for distributing and showing fi lms.  e
RTC is thus in charge of authorizing imports and exports of radio and television programs in accordance
with various agreements.
An important mechanism of regulatory independence from the government is represented by the set of
provisions on freedom of speech and press, and the right of information as defi ned in the constitution.  e
independent state entities that protect these constitutional guarantees are SCJN and the CNDH.
Some of the loopholes in the secondary acts and rules include the lack of provisions on mechanisms to protect
government interference or pressure on the media. At the same time, independent state-controlled regulators
such as CNDH, COFETEL, and IFE have to move towards more independence by allowing for more civil
society participation.  ese entities are now controlled by the principal political parties.
7.2.3 Digital Licensing
Broadcast licensing is a p roblem because of the diversity of operators, because the Federal Radio and
Television Act does not off er not-for-profi t organizations or communities an equitable legal framework to
obtain broadcast licenses. Nor does the digital policy adopted by the Calderón administration address this.
e Federal Radio and Television Act only stipulates that not-for-profi t broadcast licenses are issued for the
operation of “offi cial stations” by bodies subordinated to the centralized federal public administration, state
and municipal governments, and public educational institutions.
is Act does not entitle communities to radio or television frequencies. Moreover, the procedure for non-
commercial organizations to obtain a license is much more complicated than the procedure for a commercial
license.144 For example, unlike in the case of applying for a private license, the Act foresees that the SCT may
require additional information from not-for-profi t applicants if deemed necessary by other authorities.145
144. See the assessment of Mexico’s legal framework for the authorization of private and not-for profi t broadcasting licensing published in AMARC,
“ e invisible jaws. New and old barriers in radio broadcasting,” Buenos Aires, 2009, pp. 169–198.
145. Federal Radio and Television Act, article 20, section II.
77OPEN SOCIETY MEDIA PROGRAM 2011
AMARC Mexico reported in 2009 that the Federal General Attorney (Procuraduria General de la República)
took legal action against the director of the community radio Tierra y Libertad de Monterrey in Nuevo León,
Héctor Camero, who was accused of operating without a license.146 He faced up until 12 years in jail, plus
nes. In March 2010, various civil society organizations responded by denouncing the criminalization of the
use of freedom of expression.
According to a complaint signed by 47 senators who criticized the amendments to the television law in
2006, the provision allowing the regulator to ask for more papers and information creates uncertainty for the
applicant.  e complaining senators found this provision to be unconstitutional.147 At this time of writing,
there were no diff erent rules for digital licensing.
7.2.4 Role of Self-regulatory Mechanisms
Self-regulatory mechanisms and press councils have played no role in the Mexican media. In fact, such
mechanisms are almost non-existent.  ose that do exist are linked to public media. Canal 22 (administered
by CONACULTA), Canal 11 (of the National Polytechnic Institute), and Radio Educacion have internal
bodies representing the interest of TV viewers.  e Mexican Radio Institute also has a kind of self-regulatory
mechanism, more like a mediator between IMER and its listeners. Commercial media have not established
any such bodies.  e main leading authority in the broadcasting sector, CIRT, has a self-regulatory council
that attends to complaints about radio and television programs. No self-regulatory bodies for digital and
internet media are in place. (See sections 2.2.1 and 4.3.1.)
7.3 Government Interference
7.3.1 The Market
e main interference by state authorities that has led to distortions of the media market is, in fact, the lack
of initiative in organizing tenders to license new broadcasters. As a result of this omission, the state authorities
help to perpetuate the Televisa-Azteca duopoly in the television market and an oligopoly in the radio market.
Both situations are detrimental to diversity and competition in the broadcasting sector. At the same time,
various ministries and the 31 state governments spend hefty amounts of money on advertising their policies
and actions in the media, which is a disguised form of electoral propaganda. Government funding of a
swathe of private media also, in some aspects, distorts the free functioning of the market (see section 6) and,
consequently, hurts the independence of the media. (See section 4.)
146. He was accused of using, exploiting, and operating through radio spectrum without permission from the state, according to article 150 of the
General Act of National Properties. Further information and direct testimony of Héctor Camero may be consulted at http://mediocracia.word-
press.com/2010/11/05/todos-somos-hector-camero/ (accessed 5 July 2010).
147. Action of unconstitutionality displayed by 47 Senators on 4 May 2006.
MAPPING DIGITAL MEDIA MEXICO78
7.3.2 The Regulator
Media diversity and pluralism in Mexico are hurt, not by media regulators abusing their powers, but by the
lack of initiative by state authorities.  is has allowed the two dominant TV players in the market, Televisa
and TV Azteca to further bolster their market dominance at the same time that they breach the license
conditions. Such was the launch by TV Azteca of the multi-channel platform HiTV, a move that was not
allowed by the broadcast license. (See section 7.1.1.1.)
7.3.3 Other Forms of Interference
Violence against journalists continues to be a major problem in Mexico due to the recrudescence of drug-
traffi cking. (See section 4.2.2.) However, in the past fi ve years there has been no evidence that the government
has put any extra-judicial pressure on editors and journalists.
7.4 Assessments
e legal framework for communications has infringed freedom of expression and the right to information
for many decades.  is system was built over the last 50 years as a discretionary system controlled by
the government through unwritten agreements with media owners.  e failure to take due steps against
powerful media conglomerates, the non-existence of a truly independent regulator, the lack of recognition
for community media, and in general the absence of a public policy that stimulates political pluralism,
cultural diversity, and economic competition in the radio and television sector were the main reasons for the
perpetuation of this state of aff airs.148
Digitization has not aff ected the nature and intensity of government interference, which continues to exist
albeit at intensity lower level, and which is mainly related to advertising and sometimes is unpredictable. At
the same time, state involvement in the media sector lacks transparency.
Digital switch-over has not brought about a major impact because the digital divide is still wide. Nevertheless,
there are cases now and then of new platforms making some impact. For example, users of Twitter, although
they only numbered 150,000 in March 2010, feel that they have begun to exert a degree of infl uence on
lawmakers and public offi cials to modify decisions, as the Internet#Necesario story proved (see section 3.2.1).
Some observers believe that one way to encourage diversity of news and information is through licensing
non-profi t organizations and communities to run radio stations.149 Nevertheless, community radio is not
recognized in law.  e 13 radio broadcasters operating as such in Mexico do it with a special permission: a
license for not-for-profi t cultural and education institutions.
148. F. Hernández and G. Orozco, Televisiones en México. Un recuento histórico (Television in Mexico. A historical countdown), UdeG, Guadalajara, 2007.
149. AMEDI, “¿Qué legislación hace falta para los medios de comunicación en México?” (What legislation is needed for communication media in
Mexico?), AMEDI-Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, México, D.F. 2009.
79OPEN SOCIETY MEDIA PROGRAM 2011
In the case of indigenous communities, there are glaring contradictions in the regulatory framework.  e
second article of the constitution acknowledges that towns and communities may “acquire, operate and
administer media under conditions determined by law.” Nonetheless, this right has not been guaranteed and
it is not part of the Radio and Television Act.  is legal loophole has a negative impact on media diversity
and cultural and ethnic plurality.
e public policies related to digitization do not have the principles of media pluralism and diversity at their
heart. In fact, the discourse of the Calderon administration is geared to the three Cs: competence, coverage,
and convergence, three pillars that, in their view, will inevitably produce pluralism and diversity.
MAPPING DIGITAL MEDIA MEXICO80
8. Conclusions
8.1 Media Today
8.1.1 Positive developments
Creation of democratic mechanisms through establishment of independent institutions such as CNDH,
IFAI, and IFE, and of semi-independent institutions such as COFETEL and COFEMER.  is has
helped to improve media diversity and pluralism.
Expansion of public service television: the main public television channel, Canal 11, has a plan to go
nationwide after 52 years. To date, Canal 11 has covered a maximum of 47 percent of households.
New entrants in the news market through various new platforms, including independent media outlets,
private operators, and civil society organizations.  ey help enrich the pluralism of voices in the public
sphere.
In September 2010, the Calderón administration unveiled a public policy aimed at accelerating the
deployment of digital TV.  e policy established the possibility of subsidies for purchase of set top-boxes
and antennas for poor households, and the opportunity to allow entrance through public tenders of new
digital terrestrial channels in local markets.
Licensing of not-for-profi t organizations including six community radios, public service broadcasting in
some states of the republic, and public universities.
8.1.2 Negative developments
e nationwide TV market continues to be extremely concentrated and centralized, with the Televisa-
Azteca duopoly still overwhelming.  e radio market remains concentrated at regional levels.  is
situation hinders plurality and competition.
e Federal Radio and Television Act and the Telecommunications Act have not been amended to address
the cultural diversity and democratic pluralism that society demands, and to open the spectrum to new
entrants to ensure society benefi ts from advantages brought by digitization.
81OPEN SOCIETY MEDIA PROGRAM 2011
e pay-TV and broadband markets are also steadily concentrating, which starts to present problems in
terms of economic competition and internet access.  e deployment of pay-TV and the internet are done
solely according to market logic, without taking into account public interest and social inclusion despite
major socio-economic inequalities.
COFETEL and SCT have no clear rules on licensing procedures and tenders for telecoms services.
e drug war and organized crime continue to encroach on freedom of expression and the safety of
journalists.
e state authorities during the past fi ve years have been increasingly taken to court under the penal code
by directors and operators of community radio stations.
8.2 Media Tomorrow
e contribution of digital media to news output is important, but the impact of this fresh content on the
average Mexican continues to be marginal.  e internet is accessible solely to a thin middle class and to
educated, urban people.
e deployment of new technologies is driven by market logic: liberalization, commoditization of the
news product, and privatization.  us, the opportunities that digitization was expected to produce are now
following economic logic rather than social objectives.
News updates online, citizen journalism, new channels for audio and video streaming, and the availability
of pictures are all new and valuable sources of information through which online portals are enriching the
general news off er.  ey surely contribute to a richer variety of voices, but for a society such as Mexico these
developments are not enough to generate larger social change. Civil society needs to participate more in the
media to ensure the evolution of a plural and diverse communications system with private, public service,
and community media coexisting.
In the future digitization could be an opportunity to open up the Mexican communication system, giving
citizens a richer palette of viewpoints.  is, however, has to be built through policies that take account of
social and political change.
MAPPING DIGITAL MEDIA MEXICO82
9. Recommendations
9.1 Policy
9.1.1 Media Policy
9.1.1.1 Reform of Broadcasting and Telecommunications Laws to Strengthen Diversity of
Media Output
Issue
e broadcasting and telecommunications sectors in Mexico are highly concentrated.  is situation is enabled
by a legal framework which does not respond to the democratic, economic and cultural diversity of society.
Recommendation
e Congress should adopt a new law to reform and consolidate the regulation of broadcasting and
telecommunications.  e principal objective of this law should be the democratization of communications
in Mexico by ensuring:
Universal access to broadband and public service broadcasting signals
Incentives for the development of audiovisual content and services industries through promotion of
independent production
Fair and equitable access to broadcasting licenses
Conditions for economic competition and prohibitions against monopolies and concentration of
ownership in the media
Independence of public broadcasters
Access of community media to broadcast licenses
83OPEN SOCIETY MEDIA PROGRAM 2011
9.1.1.2 Allowing Communities to Purchase, Operate and Administer Media
Issue
e Mexican Constitution gives indigenous communities and towns “power to acquire, run and manage
media.”  e Broadcasting Act does not, however, include any corresponding provision to support this.
erefore, all indigenous and community radios are considered illegal.
Recommendation
e Congress should adopt legal provisions that would implement the constitutional right of indigenous
communities to acquire, run and manage media. In the case of existing community media, the fi nancial
and technical requirements they have to comply with should be minimal, in order to allow these outlets to
operate.  e law should allow them to access multiple sources of funding and to purchase digital equipment
in order to guarantee their survival after digital switchover.
9.1.1.3 Support for Independent Audiovisual Production
Issue
Independent audiovisual production remains marginal on Mexican television, in both free-to-air TV and
pay-TV. On free-to-air television, the reason is the dominance of content production by the TV stations
Televisa and TV Azteca. In pay-TV, the reason is the prevalence of foreign production, mainly from the
United States.
Recommendation
e Congress should adopt legal provisions to impose quotas with respect to independent audiovisual
production of 10 percent on free-to-air TV stations and of 15 percent on pay-TV stations to guarantee room
for independent audiovisual production.
9.1.1.4 Adoption of Provisions on Access by Citizens and Aff ordability Requirements in Digital
Switch-over Policy
Issue
e policy of transition to digital terrestrial television in Mexico is ambiguous and does not defi ne a clear
plan, which would include provisions to govern access by citizens and provide for aff ordability. (A Federal
Government decree in September 2010 to accelerate the transition was later suspended by the Supreme
Court of Justice, on the grounds that adoption of this policy is the exclusive responsibility of the Federal
Telecommunications Commission, Cofetel.)
Recommendation
Following consultation with civil society and the main players in the broadcast sector, Cofetel should adopt
a new policy on digital switch-over, including provisions on aff ordability requirements and access by citizens.
MAPPING DIGITAL MEDIA MEXICO84
9.1.1.5 Adoption of Must-carry and Must-off er Rules
Issue
Mexican media policy and legislation lacks must-carry and must-off er rules.  is allows Televisa not to
off er its content to all pay-TV platforms despite orders by Cofeco to do so. Concurrently, certain pay-TV
companies, with dominance in various local markets, improperly charge free-to-air TV channels to distribute
their programs.
Recommendation
e Congress should adopt legal provisions to introduce must-carry and must-off er rules for all pay-TV
systems (DTH, cable, MMDS and IPTV), to promote healthy and fair competition. At the same time, the
Congress should amend article 144 of the Federal Act on Author Rights by changing the copyright conditions
for broadcasting audiovisual content in line with these new must-carry and must-off er rules.  e Congress
should also amend article 63 of the same act, empowering Cofetel to establish these conditions and rules.
9.2 Media Law and Regulation
9.2.1 Media Ownership
9.2.1.1 Restrictions on Ownership Concentration in Broadcasting and Telecommunications
Issue
e high concentration of the broadcasting and telecommunications markets harms competition, maintains
high prices for consumers, and limits the plurality of voices and cultural diversity. Additionally, the lack of
cross-ownership rules leads to distortion in various market segments. (In 2010, Grupo Televisa commanded
some 68 percent of the advertising market in free-to-air TV, 47 percent of all Mexican pay-TV subscribers,
and is expanding its presence in the mobile phone sector.)
Recommendation
In line with their mandates, Cofetel and Cofeco should adopt ceilings on ownership in the media as following:
Prohibition to own more than one free-to-air nationwide TV network and fi ve nationwide radio networks
Prohibition to own local and regional radios in more than 11 states
Prohibition to own more than one pay-TV platform (DTH, Cable, MMDS or IPTV) and fi xed line.
9.2.2 Media Regulation
9.2.2.1 Transparency, Fairness and Diversity in Broadcast and Telecommunications Licensing
Issue
e broadcast licensing system lacks transparency and fairness, with political and corporate interests prevailing
in the process. In addition, there are no fair and clear rules on distribution of the radio-electric spectrum.
Information about broadcast and telecommunications licenses and their owners is scarce.
85OPEN SOCIETY MEDIA PROGRAM 2011
Recommendation
Cofetel should establish a fair mechanism and conditions for awarding broadcast and telecommunications
licenses.  is mechanism should be fully transparent, with public explanation of licensing decisions, a public
register of licensees, and the yearly publication of a report on the situation of media and telecommunications
in Mexico. Cofetel should introduce provisions ensuring that at least 30 percent of the existing spectrum is
awarded to community media. (Argentina off ers a model of good practice in this respect.)
9.2.2.2 Inclusion of Civil Society in Designing and Evaluating Communications Policies
Issue
Civil society has not been involved in general in the debates on adopting communications policies, including
digitization policy.
Recommendation
e Congress and Cofetel should establish a National Advisory Council on Communications, with multi-
stakeholder composition, giving civil society access to participate in the preparation of communications
policies.
9.2.2.3 Increase in Cofetel’s Independence and Sanctioning Powers
Issue
Cofetel does not enjoy full autonomy from the Ministry of Communications and Transports. It also lacks the
legal capacity to impose sanctions on broadcast and telecommunications licensees.
Recommendation
e Congress should adopt legal provisions either as part of a new communications act (see section 9.1.1.1)
or of the Constitution, to ensure Cofetel’s full independence from the state authorities, and powers to apply
and impose sanctions on owners of broadcast and telecommunications licenses that breach laws.
9.3 Public Service in the Media
9.3.1 Reform of Public Broadcasting
Issue
Public service broadcasters face political pressure from state and federal governments.  ey lack funding
to invest in digital equipment and infrastructure.  e two free-to-air nationwide public service networks
(Channel 11 and Channel 22) and the pay-TV public service broadcasters (Congress Channel and Judicial
Channel) run by the federal government, do not have nationwide footprints.
Recommendations
e Congress should adopt legal provisions to reform the mandate, responsibilities, tasks and functions of
the public service broadcasting system.  ese provisions should establish mechanisms ensuring governing
independence, editorial freedom and suffi cient funding.  e Federal Government should expand the digital
coverage of the four public service networks by awarding them suffi cient and stable funding.  is could be
secured by imposing a tax of up to 2 percent on private broadcasters’ total annual revenues.
MAPPING DIGITAL MEDIA MEXICO86
9.4 Journalism
9.4.1 Implementation of Preventive and Protective Actions for Journalists
Issue
Mexico is the most dangerous country in the Americas for journalists. Between 2000 and 2010, a total of 70
journalists were killed in Mexico.  e majority of those crimes remain unpunished. Initiatives of the special
agency for crimes against freedom of expression have not stopped attacks on journalists.
Recommendation
e government should adopt the Coordination Agreement for the implementation of preventive and
protective actions for journalists as a national mechanism to protect journalists and media workers, in line
with the recommendation of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), mainly regarding
issues related to violence, impunity and self-censorship.150
150. IACHR, Annual Report of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights 2010. Report of the Offi ce of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom
of Expression, Washington, D.C., 2011, pp. 255–258. Available at: http://www.cidh.oas.org/annualrep/2010eng/TOC.htm (last accessed 15
December 2011).
87OPEN SOCIETY MEDIA PROGRAM 2011
List of Abbreviations, Figures, Tables,
Companies
Abbreviations
AMARC World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters, Asociación Mundial de Radios
Comunitarias
AMEDI Mexican Association for the Right to Information, Asociación Mexicana de Derecho a la
Información
AMIC Mexican Association of Communication Researchers, Asociación Mexicana de Investigadores
de la Comunicación.
AMIPCI Mexican Internet Association, Asociación Mexicana de Internet
ARD Consortium of public-law broadcasting institutions of the Federal Republic of Germany,
Arbeitsgemeinschaft der öff entlich-rechtlichen Rundfunkanstalten der Bundesrepublik Deutschland
CANITEC National Chamber of the Cable Telecommunications Industry, Cámara Nacional de la
Industria de Telecomunicaciones por Cable
CCPRI Qualifying Commission of Illustrated Magazines and Publications, Comisión Califi cadora
de Publicaciones y Revistas Ilustradas
CENCOS National Center of Social Communication, Centro Nacional de Comunicación Social
CIMAC Communication and Information on Women, Comunicación e Información de la Mujer
CIRT National Radio and Television Industry Chamber, Cámara Nacional de la Industria de la
Radio y la Televisión
CNDH National Human Rights Commission, Comisión Nacional de los Derechos Humanos
COFECO Federal Competence Commission, Comisión Federal de Competencia
COFEMER Federal Bureau of Regulatory Improvement, Comisión Federal de Mejora Regulatoria
COFETEL Federal Commission of Telecommunications, Comisión Federal de Telecomunicaciones
COFIPE Federal Code of Electoral Institutions and Procedures, Código Federal de Instituciones y
Procedimientos Electorales
CONACULTA National Council for Culture and the Arts, Consejo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes
MAPPING DIGITAL MEDIA MEXICO88
CONEICC National Council for Teaching and Research into Communication Sciences, Consejo
Nacional para la Enseñanza y la Investigación de las ciencias de la Comunicación
EZLN Zapatista National Liberation Army, Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional
IBOPE Institute of Public Opinion and Statistics (Brazil), Instituto Brasileiro de Opinião Pública e
Estatística
IFAI Federal Institute of Access to Public Information, Instituto Federal de Acceso a la Información
Pública
IFE Federal Electoral Institute, Instituto Federal Electoral
IMER Mexican Radio Institute, Instituto Mexicano de la Radio
IMF International Monetary Fund
INEGI National Institute of Statistics, Geography and Information Technology, Instituto Nacional
de Estadística, Geografía e Informática
INRA International Researchers Associated, Investigadores Internacionales Asociados
IPN National Polytechnic Institute, Instituto Politécnico Nacional
ITU International Telecommunication Union
MXN Mexican peso
NAFTA North American Free Trade Agreement
OEM Mexican Publishing Organization, Organización Editorial Mexicana
PAN National Action Party, Partido Acción Nacional
PNMI National Registry of Print Media, Padrón Nacional de Medios Impresos
PRD Democratic Revolution Party, Partido de la Revolución Democrática
PRI Institutional Revolutionary Party, Partido Revolucionario Institucional
RTC General Directorate of Radio, Television and Cinematography, Dirección General de Radio,
Televisión y Cinematografía
SCJN Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation, Suprema Corte de Justicia de la Nación
SCT Ministry of Communications and Transport, Secretaria de Comunicaciones Transportes
SHCP Secretariat of Finance and Public Credit, Secretaría de Hacienda y Crétido Público
TEPJF Federal Electoral Tribunal, Tribunal Electoral del Poder J