The Federal Electoral Institute (Instituto Federal Electoral, IFE) fined one of Mexico’s largest television networks, Televisión Azteca, the highest amount it has ever fined a television station: $122.4 million pesos, which is nearly $10 million US dollars at the current exchange rate. The IFE is the administrative agency charged with enforcing electoral laws and regulations that promote fairness in media coverage in politics. The nine-member panel unanimously ruled to punish Televisión Azteca for not airing about 16,000 ‘spots’—designated for promotional use by political parties and election authorities—in four states during their election campaign seasons.
The panel was more divided (6-3), however, as to how much it should fine the 17 TV stations in those states that did not air those ‘spots.’ One of the panelists, Benito Nacif, said that despite the high fine, the panel’s decision followed established precedent. Moreover, he said that a significant factor in its decision was Televisión Azteca’s past violations. In a separate decision on January 30, 2010, the network was fined over $70 million pesos for not airing about 8,000 ‘spots’ during the election seasons in other states. Mr. Nacif said this pattern led the panel to increase the fine’s severity.
It ordered the network to make up for these omissions according to current laws and guidelines. Televisión Azteca is expected to appeal the panel’s decision as to the fine in federal court.