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Political magazine accuses government of using official advertising to pressure media

(CEPET/IFEX) - The following is a 4 October 2007 statement from CEPET, an interim member of IFEX:

Evidence of discriminatory allocation of official publicity in Mexico

Mexico, 4 October 2007 - "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," says the political weekly magazine "Proceso" in its 30 September 2007 issue.

According to the marketing subdivision of "Proceso", in its first semester under Calderón's government, the magazine's income from official advertising amounted to 278,600 pesos (approx. U$25,600). In the prior year, under then-president Vicente Fox, income from official advertising amounted to 1,424,092 (approx. US$131,000). This demonstrates how the new administration reduced government advertising with the magazine to a fifth of what it was formerly.

The tendency of reduced advertising continues. Despite being the country's most important magazine, from January to June 2007, "Proceso" ranked lowest of all weeklies in terms of receipt of official advertising, below even weeklies such as "Vértigo", which have a much lower circulation.

"Proceso" observes that the distribution of official advertising is left to the discretion of the federal executive, without any kind of oversight or accounting.

In 2003, the OAS special rapporteur on freedom of expression dedicated its report to an analysis of the use of advertising as a means by which to indirectly limit the circulation of ideas. The report stated how, "as in Mexico, advertising is frequently distributed without any restriction or legal oversight, which leads to discretionary allocation of advertising and, in consequence, media self-censorship."

While the media have no intrinsic right to receive advertising support from the state, when such funds are spent in a discriminatory way, the fundamental right to freedom of expression is violated.

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