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Columnist Denise Dresser doesn't like that President Enrique Peña Nieto was able to convince a supposedly independent agency to reverse the full switchover to digital television for Tijuana, Rosarito and Tecate, seeing a darker message in this exercise of presidential persuasion. She calls the Federal Electoral Institute (IFE) an accomplice in the process.
It appears, however, that Dresser may be all wet on this one. The IFE, following the lead of Baja California's state electoral agency, sought to delay the switchover so that all Baja Californians would have access to television and be able to watch gubernatorial debates (and news coverage, and candidate advertising, etc.). If the Federal Communications Commission had not delayed the switchover earlier this year, this would not have been a problem, and if it had thought of the consequences of having the changeover during an election campaign, it might have delayed the switchover until after the election, as it has now done.
The larger issue Dresser fears is that digitalization will be delayed nationally, which she says benefits the nation's monopolistic media giants, and that independent agencies will not be independent in general and do the president's bidding.
Update, June 14: El Mexicano editorial decries the lack of clarity in the matter, and says switch to digital for Mexicali, Monterrey and Ciudad Juárez now apparently will be delayed from the fall until next year due to lack of funds.And the head of the Federal Communications Commission, Mony de Swaan, says there will be no more planned switchovers during electoral periods.
Update, June 15: The commission still plans a Dec. 31, 2015, switchover to digital television for the entire country, Communications and Transportation Minister Gerardo Ruiz Esparza says. Story in Frontera (PDF).
The Federal Electoral Institute on Wednesday asked the federal communications ministry to reinstate analog TV broadcasts in Tijuana until after the July 7 gubernatorial election. The switch to digital TV has cut off a large number of Tijuana, Tecate and Rosarito Beach residents from TV broadcasts; the communications agency puts the number at 14,000 households, but others put it far higher. Many residents have not received, or purchased, converter boxes; many said on the newscast that they could not afford the $50 cost.
Mexico's national TV news show, "El Noticiero con Joaquín López-Doriga," devoted nearly 10 minutes at the beginning of its program Wednesday night to the issue. Tijuana is the first city in Mexico to go all-digital. Monterrey in Nuevo León state is to follow in the fall.
President Enrique Peña Nieto asked on Wednesday that the communications ministry create a "window" in Tijuana to resolve outstanding issues.
Meanwhile, the first Baja California gubernatorial debate was held Wednesday in Rosarito; it was broadcast over the Internet.
The Mexican federal government's switch to all-digital TV for Tijuana caused chaos Tuesday, as large numbers of TV owners had not acquired converter boxes. Rosarito Beach residents said the federal seemed to have forgotten about supplying them with boxes, even though their TV signals come from Tijuana. The process was not as smooth as in the United States as many more Baja California residents do not have cable and still have analog televisions.
Hundreds descended on Tijuana City Hall seeking converter boxes; mayor asks federal government to broadcast analog signal until city is more ready for the switch. Stories, El Mexicano (PDF).
Injunction sought against switch: Front page, El Mexicano (PDF). Jump.
Rosarito left out of the equation. Story, El Mexicano (PDF).
El Mexicano editorial (PDF) says federal government goofed up big time.