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CNDH investigates anomaly in allocation of federal government advertising contracts

(CEPET/IFEX) - The National Human Rights Commission (Comisión Nacional de Derechos Humanos, CNDH) has begun an investigation into the federal government's alleged discrimination against "Proceso" magazine, as retaliation for their critical editorial stance.

On 27 April 2009, Rafael Rodríguez Castañeda, editor of the weekly, submitted a complaint to the CNDH stating that "Proceso" had been treated unfairly with regard to the distribution of government advertising contracts for national print media.

The "Proceso" directors believe that the federal government has violated the magazine's rights, particularly freedom of expression, by distributing advertising contracts that its departments pay with treasury funds, in a discretionary and secretive manner.

In the weekly's 11 May edition, Rodríguez Castañeda highlighted that the advertising ban against "Proceso" has gotten worse since the time of Vicente Fox "who arbitrarily restricted advertising destined for 'Proceso', because of the information we distributed about him and his associates".

Under the government of Felipe Calderón, federal government advertising in "Proceso" has been reduced to practically nothing.

"Proceso" compared advertising numbers with similar papers and magazines with political content. From January to December 2008, "Proceso" only published 5.16 pages of federal government advertisements, while "Vértigo" got 166.42 pages, "Milenio Semanal" received 111.83 and "Emeequis" 75.5.

Rodríguez Castañeda also highlighted that the amount of government advertising a publication was allotted was not linked to the publication's subscription rate; for example "Vértigo"'s circulation rate is 4,900 while that of "Proceso" is 74,792.

The CNDH's department for offenses against journalists told CEPET that it is starting the investigation and that it will seek information from a number of sources.

The National Institute for Fine Arts and the Public Education Secretary are among the main government bodies that purchase advertising space in the aforementioned publications.

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