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All your bases belong to Televisa

20 August 2012

(Apologies to Aguachile … who had every right to object to my initial description of his (and other commentator’s) response to the events last February.  Corrections in italics—  my reply to his comment in the “comments” section.)

From Aguachile last Thursday:

The director of the MVS Comunicaciones media group, whose TV concession provides a rare alternative to Mexico’s electronic media duopoly dominated by the infamous Televisa and TV Azteca, has confirmed what many has suspected: The PAN government of Felipe Calderón has launched a political attack on the station.

The government’s decision to put up MVS’s concession claiming that it is under-utilizing its 2.5 GHz bandwidth appears only to have been an excuse, as MVS head Joaquín Vargas Guajardo confirmed that the government told him its license would only be renewed if he fired the renowned investigative journalist Carmen Aristegui, as well as to desist from an earlier MVS complaint against a proposed Televisa purchase of Iusacell, a cell phone provider.

Aristegui, one of the most respected journalists in Latin America (and in the hemisphere as a whole) was fired in February of this year for reporting on wide-spread and long-standing reports that Felipe Calderón had a problem with alcohol.

There was some surprising support  (from Aguachile among others) for firing Even among those normally critical of the administration, many (like Aguachile) saw Ms. Aristegui’s reportage as unfair and unwarranted rumor mongering, which made it understandable that a “mainstream” news organization would fire her.  But public demand supposedly led to her reinstatement.  However, if the claims by Joaquín Vargas that he was told by Calderón’s Labor Secretary, Javier Lozano, that his company’s broadband access permits were “fucked” if the journalist was reinstated, are true, then it appears that MVS was indeed taking it’s role as an independent media source seriously.

At one point, the Calderón Administration was making big noises about breaking up monopolies — though it then proceeded to forcibly liquidate the union owned electric company  LyFC and turn its assets over to the semi-privatived  CFE and to force both Carlos Slim’s various companies and MVS to make concessions designed to strengthen Televisa’s position in the media market.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Beco permalink
    20 August 2012 7:57 am

    While not at all surprising given this administration’s disdain for criticism, no matter how legitimate it may be or where it comes from, it’s very terrifying seeing this happen in the lame-duck days of this PAN government. For all of his foot-in-mouth moments, if there was one thing the Fox administration can be lauded for is its relative openness to freedom of expression and the democratization of public discourse.

    It’s unfortunate that FeCal has to mar that as well on his “victory” lap around the commode as the PRI flushes him down. One can only wonder what sort of press restrictions will come when the PRIratas officially return to bully the nation in December.

  2. Aguachile permalink
    20 August 2012 1:15 pm

    I do take more than a bit offense of what to me is a mischaracterization: I specifically stated that I thought she should not have been fired, and that she should be reinstated. I objected to one aspect of her journalism: That you can just hurl trash at a person offering nothing more concrete than hearsay, and then tell that person that it is actually his/her responsibility to prove the allegations are unfounded – guilty until proven innocent, nothing more. Has any concrete stuff on Calderón’s alcoholism come up since? Was there any then? No, and it was not his responsibility or duty or whatever to go out and deny it.

    • 20 August 2012 11:31 pm

      Your post was mischaracterized, and again my apologies. While rumors that Felipe Calderón had a drinking problem had been floating around since before the 2006 election, mention on the floor of the Chamber of Deputies, and public discussion of the matter in all the alternative media made the fact that the “rumor” existed legitimate news. For Aristegui to suggest that Calderón address the matter was no different than reporters in the U.S. suggesting back during the 2008 U.S. Presidential race that Barack Obama’s campaign advisers put to rest rumors that he was not born in Hawai’i. I can’t claim to be psychic, but I think I was right in saying it was was bad policy to not address the issue when it was first raised (a mistake Obama’s handlers made, but mostly neutralized when they did address it) and a positive blunder to allow the matter to escalate by strong-arming MVS.

      Recent speculations on Hugo Chavez’ health in the Venezuelan media, while not openly addressed by the Executive to everyone’s satisfaction, have not brought about strong-arm retaliations against reporters in Venezuela, nor would any politician with a lick of brains ever think of so crude a response. As it is, more transparency when it comes to Presidential health matters wouldn’t be a bad idea and would save everyone a trouble.

      • Sal permalink
        22 August 2012 2:16 pm

        I think comparing US politics to Mexican politics is flawed. I know it seems like the reasonable thing to do but they are not the same.

        “El que se mueve no sale en la foto”

  3. Sal permalink
    22 August 2012 2:06 pm

    I agree with Aguachile in the way the rumor was potraid and demanding clarification from the president. I think Aristegui got carried away and decided to take the scandalous reporting style commonly used for tv actors and pop singers. Everybody knew it was a hot potato and curiously nobody picked it up.

    On the other hand Aristegui (willingly or unwillingly) has become a bastion for free press and I commend her and respect her for that. Do I think Calderon is a drunk, hell yes.

    Unfortunately I believe all this energy should have been used to report on way more important issues happening in Mexico and leave the gossip to the tabloids.

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