11 January 2008

Alert

Legislators to create regulatory body to prevent abusive use of publicly-owned radio and television stations


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(CEPET/IFEX) - Legislators from the main political parties agreed to advance a legislative reform aimed at creating a public media institute (Instituto de Medios Públicos) to regulate the content of government-owned television stations to prevent abuses of the use of the airtime.

The agreement came about in the aftermath of an incident involving the government of Guanajuato state, where the state's television station carried a series that promoted Catholicism among youth, in contravention of the Constitution, which defines Mexico as a secular state guaranteeing freedom of religion.

Senate Vice-President Francisco Arroyo told "Reforma" newspaper that the institute is to be an autonomous entity aimed at preventing government abuse of the airwaves, such as the Guanajuato caseHe added: "The intention is to establish some rules for all public television channels, so that they cease to be government media and instead function as public media."

Arroyo added that the new institute would be a legal body comparable to similar bodies in the US, Great Britain, Spain and Italy, which regulate public broadcasters in those countries.

Presently, the Mexican Congress is completing a study comparing the legal frameworks to inform the drafting of the reform, which has already been announced on television and radio.

The use of public funds to support private media, an ongoing issue in Mexico, will also be addressed in the reform bill.



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