Thursday, May 3, 2012

IFE caves: No "cadena" of national debate

IFE's general council voted 7-2 to reject a cadena nacional, where Mexico's venomous media duopoly would simply be forced to transmit the first (of only two) presidential debates, shaping it principally in terms of "liberty," in the sense that IFE should simply not force the broadcast of the this mechanism, but presumably rely on more consensual methods. Yet what about the principle of equity?

Against the blatantly anti-democratic behavior of the two mass media chains Televisa and TV Azteca - yes, it is anti-democratic when a company has the privilege of a near monopoly public airways, awarded at bargain prices, yet refuses to use them for public good - how can one expect that either will be "persuaded" to air the debate on its prime-time star channels?

I am squarely with Alfredo Figueroa and Lorenzo Córdova here, the only two councilors who voted in favor of a cadena. To suggest that this would turn Mexico into a Venezuela-like scenario, where Hugo Chávez for sure has abused this mechanism beyond the pale, is absurd and extremely dishonest reasoning: This is the most important decision Mexican voters will make for the next six years, and all actors should facilitate the wide dissemination of a debate that will help make such a decision.

The very respected former IFE chief José Woldenberg - the man who set up presidential debates in Mexico in the first place - backed such a cadena. The counselors should have listened to him. As Figueroa noted,
There are two channels (television) that concentrate 90% of the radio-electric spectrum and because of individual decisions and for the sake of rating it can be said that much of the nation will be left without the ability to compare different policy options.
Please, no "But if they care so much, they'll find a way to watch it and they should be free to " etc type of arguments. This is not about serving - or not - democracy, pure and simple.

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