World Media 2006: Mexico

Restrictive business practices and crime continue to stifle economic development but Mexico's proximity to the huge US market means it is well placed to take advantage of new opportunities.

The Mexican economy is blessed with many natural advantages, not least the fact that the country boasts large oil and gas reserves. It is also right next door to the largest consumer market in the world and is a member of the North American Free Trade Agreement. Indeed, Mexico's trade with the US and Canada has tripled since it joined Nafta in 1994.

The nation now has a GDP in excess of $1 trillion.

Yet the suspicion remains that Mexico continues to punch well below its weight economically and its reputation on the world stage remains more than a little dubious. Despite decades of fitful social engineering, the gulf between rich and poor remains huge and the country has a horrendous problem with violent crime, especially kidnappings for ransom and gangland killings.

The drugs cartels are highly active here, largely owing to the existence of that massive consumer market across the border.

If all of that wasn't bad enough, restrictive business practices - notably the purchase of what are effectively monopolies - continue to stifle economic development and encourage uncompetitiveness.

Unsurprisingly, the country's media markets are affected by such considerations.

For instance, according to an independent survey conducted last year, Mexico's regional and local media have become powerless to resist all manner of pressures from criminals, politicians and the police.

And the antics of Azteca TV, Mexico's second-largest broadcaster, are not designed to inspire confidence in the Mexican media. Its owner, Moises Saba Masri, has fallen foul of New York's Securities and Exchange Commission over dubious financial transactions and is being investigated by regulators in Mexico. Azteca staff were also guilty of using strong-arm tactics in trying to acquire the assets of a rival broadcaster in 2003.

However, Televisa, the country's major broadcaster, is now waking up to the potential opportunities north of the border. Given the growing economic importance of the Hispanic population in the US, Televisa should be in a strong position to meet an increasing demand for Spanish-language content, especially television programming. The company has been building a stake in the US Hispanic broadcaster Univision and in 2004 it signed a joint venture agreement with Clear Channel.

ADVERTISING EXPENDITURE USdollars million. All years based on US$1= Peso** (see exchange rate per year) Total TV Newspapers Magazines Radio Peso** 1994 2,042 986 421 267 368 3.375 1995 1,345 651 324 175 196 6.419 1996 1,753 814 333 247 359 7.599 1997 2,523 1,322 438 350 413 7.919 1998 2,662 1,459 458 360 384 9.136 1999 2,955 1,594 525 369 466 9.560 2000 3,449 1,986 541 392 530 9.456 2001 3,562 2,102 557 409 494 9.342 2002 3,447 2,074 547 329 497 9.656 2003 3,180 2,033 415 351 381 10.789 2004 3,450 2,204 453 380 414 11.286 2005 3,717 2,340 460 458 459 11.693 2006* 4,133 2,537 463 599 533 12.079 2007* 4,510 2,770 466 665 608 12.501 2008* 4,813 2,936 481 722 674 13.001 Adspend notes 1) After estimated discounts. 2) Excludes production costs. 3) Includes classified. 4) Excludes agency commission. *Estimated FACTFILE Highest circulating titles - Newspaper: Esto (daily, 385,000 copies) - Business magazine: Intercityes (quarterly, 150,000 copies) - Consumer magazine: Sky View (monthly, 371,000 copies) Top TV shows - Most watched TV programme (2004): Big Brother - Best new TV format: Bailando por un Sueno - dance-based reality show Major measurement tools - Circulation: Media Verifying Institute, Certified Audit of Circulation - Readership: Ipsos Bisma, Arbitron, Gallup, Nielsen - TV viewing: Ibope AGB Main media owners - Newspapers: Organizacion Editorial Mexicana, Compania Periodistica Nacional - Magazines: Editorial Televisa, Editorial Nova - Television: Televisa, TV Azteca


Media topic du jour: Televisa's recently announced tie-up with Intel to develop content on demand.

Reigning media guru and why: Carlos Slim, the telecoms mogul and Latin America's richest man, is accelerating development of the whole region's infrastructure.

Media mogul to be seen dining with: Ricardo Salinas, the chairman of TV Azteca, who is, to say the least, a colourful character.

Car to drive: BMW X5.

Phone to carry: Nokia 6280.

Whatever you do, don't say: My insurance policy covers me in the event of kidnap.

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