The governing body for the Mexican Federal Electoral Institute yesterday imposed a $9.5 million fine on the popular television network TV Azteca for its refusal to air more than 16,000 political advertisements for candidates and parties in four states where elections will be held 2010. According to Mexican electoral laws, all radio and television stations are required to allocate up to 48 minutes of programming per day to the electoral institute for candidates political messages.
Yesterday’s fine is the largest-ever for such a violation and comes after a similar $5.5 million fine—issued in January to the same network—for its failure to air 8,000 electoral ads in the states of Coahuila, Tabasco and Yucatán. TV Azteca’s actions have generated debate among members of the electoral institute about its role in safeguarding candidates’ access to media.
The discord between this particular network and the electoral institute is not new phenomenon. TV Azteca has been fined 38 times in the past, 26 of which have eventually been overruled by the judiciary. The network is owned by Mexican billionaire Ricardo Salinas Pliego, who himself has been plagued by a series of political and financial scandals. There is little speculation about whether the network’s decision is based on political, or purely economic considerations.