The Mexican Congress, today (September 12, 2007) approved a bill that requires broadcasters to provide up to 48 minutes a day freely to political parties for the purposes of running federal campaign ads. Parties cannot buy additional time, and are limited to time equal to what other parties receive. Mexicans broadcasters, a tight and powerful monopoly, aren't happy with the projected loss of revenue.
This is an extraordinary step forward for Mexican politics which in recent years has closely mimicked the failures of US electoral policy. Vincente Fox won the presidency in 2000 for the right-leaning, neo-liberal PAN Party breaking more than 60 years of one Party domination by the PRI party. Fox won partly from a US style campaign run with US political campaign advisers - a first in Mexican campaigns. Fox's successor, Felipe Calderon (also of the PAN) won the next presidential election in 2006 in what most observers believe to have been a stolen election over progressive candidate Manual Lopez Obrador. Calderon also had heavy support from US campaign advisers and ran the dirtiest negative-ad campaigns in Mexican history.
Rejection of Calderon is so strong that on Sept. 2nd he was prevented for the second time from giving his 'state of the union' address in Congress by dissenting parties. Broadcasters cut oppositional voices in Congress short and instead cut to a presidential statement delivered from another location. Today broadcasters sent their more popular television hosts to testify against the new bill - and of course carried their testimonies live nationally. Hopefully the new campaign law will help move Mexican politics further away from the current US model having such a negative impact there.
And hopefully the US Congress will take notice and follow the lead of Mexican lawmakers in standing up to the broadcasting lobbyists and ensure that democratic principles are protected - not likely, but we can hope.--Michael Eisenmenger Of course there are rumblings in the mainstream press about this: "Electoral Bill Could Hurt Mexican Broadcasters"