Making do with less: Mexican media bruised by president’s austerity

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador took office in December promising to reduce public spending to free up more resources for the poor. But his austerity drive has left media outlets reeling, and raised questions about whether Lopez Obrador is trying to influence coverage. FILE PHOTO: The logo of broadcaster Televisa…

Making do with less: Mexican media bruised by president’s austerity

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador took office in December promising to reduce public spending to free up more resources for the poor. But his austerity drive has left media outlets reeling, and raised questions about whether Lopez Obrador is trying to influence coverage. FILE PHOTO: The logo of broadcaster Televisa is pictured at its offices in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, November 16, 2017. REUTERS/Jose Luis GonzalezBetween January and August, Lopez Obrador’s government spent 88 million pesos ($4.6 million) on advertising, just 3.6% of the sum spent in the same months of 2018 by his predecessor Enrique Pena Nieto, Public Administration Ministry (SFP) data show. Though such spending usually rises towards year-end, the eight-month outlay is the lowest in at least seven years, and well under budget. The reduction in government publicity, which had accounted for 10% or more of advertising revenue for many outlets, has sparked layoffs and the suspension of projects in an industry still suffering disruption from the shift to the internet. Everyone is feeling the pain, from regional newspapers, to marquee broadcasters such as Televisa and TV Azteca. Televisa’s profit fell by 20% in the first quarter and by 79% in the second. With the media desperate for funds, some critics fear the administration could lean on them for favorable coverage. “If the president’s goal is to regulate the flow of investment in advertising, I would celebrate it,” said Ruben Arnoldo Gonzalez, a media expert at Puebla’s Benemerita Autonomous University. “But I wouldn’t be surprised if the spending cuts are also a way to pressure the press.” The government did not immediately respond to a request for comment. In news conferences this year, Lopez Obrador has denied his goal was to weaken the media. Lopez Obrador’s relationship with the media has long been rocky, and during the daily news conferences he has freque
Read More From Publisher