Mexican reform to change relationship between media and Government

Constitutional amendments mean that television and radio stations are now obliged to broadcast 48 minutes a day of free political advertising, forbidding parties from buying their own airtime. Presidential campaigning will also be limited to within three months before election day, and bans political parties from mud-slinging or insulting other political institutions and candidates.
The ban on paid advertising for political parties is intended to help level the political playing field and was prompted by a dispute over last year’s controversial presidential election, in which PRD candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador lost out to the current president Felipe Calderon in what many claim were fraudulent elections plagued by political biased on the part of electoral authorities.
In 2006, more than half of all political campaign spending went on TV and radio ads, according to Mexico’s federal Electoral Institute.
The level of paid-for political advertising in Mexico has a huge influence on editorial and visa versa. In the case of newspapers, for example (which will not be affected by this reform), being critical of the Government has its consequences.
Media that criticize the Federal Government, such as the left-wing magazine Proceso, can lose their access to advertising. Earlier this year, for example, Proceso stated: “The government of President Felipe Calderón uses public money to punish and pressure, or to reward and favour media outlets according to their editorial line.”
But it’s not clear what the new reforms will do to address the high levels of violence against journalists in Mexico. If television and radio news editors don’t have to worry about the withdrawal of ad funds from disgruntled government patrons, their journalists could potentially be free to report more critically. Currently, many journalists in Mexico enforce a policy of self-censorship.
However, the removal of such financial impediments to freedom of reporting for journalists doesn’t really promise to have any impact on the physical reprisals currently suffered my media worked in many parts of the country.
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