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CENCOS calls on authorities to end monopolistic practices in broadcast sector

(CENCOS/IFEX) - The following is a 9 October 2007 CENCOS press release:

The struggle against media monopolies, beyond official discourse

Mexico, 9 October 2007 - Luis Téllez Kuenzler, secretary of communication and transportation, took care of the issue of media monopolies in one fell swoop by merely denying the existence of the problem. In doing so, he contradicted his - and then-president Felipe Calderón's - promises to address this issue when they come to power less than six years ago.

He denied the existence of media monopolies when speaking to businessmen at a recent event of the broadcasting sector, entitled 49 Semana Nacional de Radio y Televisión.

"I never said that there are monopolies in radio and television; the sector is competitive. Radio is one of the most competitive sectors and the government recognizes the efforts the industry has made to bring culture, education and entertainment into the homes of Mexicans."

Téllez Kuenzler seems to forget that the Mexican government is responsible for the creation and enforcement of anti-monopolistic laws, to which media businesses should be subject, since otherwise they will continue to "conspire against democratic values by limiting the plurality and diversity that guarantees the full exercise of citizens' right to information."

"Under no circumstances should these laws be exclusionary. The allocation of broadcasting rights should follow democratic criteria that guarantee equal opportunity to all," emphasizes the Declaration on Principles of Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights, in its points 12 and 13. Mexico is a signatory to the declaration.

The declaration adds: "the existence of private or public monopolies or oligopolies constitutes a serious obstacle to the circulation of ideas and varied opinions. The Inter-American Court, as well as the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights, hold that freedom of expression requires that media be accessible to all without discrimination, or more precisely, that no individuals or groups be excluded from the media."

On 3 October 2007, Téllez Kuenzler declared to Reuters that Mexico would not allocate any additional television frequencies in 2007 or 2008.

The official, however, contradicted this statement in his address at the opening of the 49 Semana Nacional de Radio y Televisión event, where he promised the full support of the government in allocating new broadcasting concessions - but only to already active broadcasters, to recognize "all that they have done for us." He promised the major corporate players in the industry the full backing of his office to ensure the renewal of their current concessions and to allow them to request permits to open new television channels.

He also stated that his office is the sole authority empowered to regulate broadcasting, denying the jurisdiction of the Federal Commission of Telecommunications (Comisión Federal de Telecomunicaciones, Cofetel), headed by Héctor Osuna.

On the other hand, at the same event, the secretary of governance, Francisco Ramírez Acuña, stated that "the market cannot and must not replace the ethical responsibility of the media, nor the functions of the state, when it comes to defending the rights of others."

CENCOS calls upon the government to establish a proper regulatory framework to counter the monopolistic practices of big businesses in the broadcasting sector, in order to substantiate its claim to respect freedom of expression.

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