Feature

World Media 2007: Mexico

President Felipe Calderon will hope to oversee a stable economy in his first full year in office, during which Televisa and TV Azteca look set to continue to dominate the media landscape.

The world's largest Spanish-speaking country has been going through a period of relative economic stability, following an economic crisis in the mid-90s. But it comes nowhere close to the affluence and stability of its neighbour, the US.

Last year saw a presidential election, with the new president, Felipe Calderon of the governing, conservative National Action Party, winning by a narrow margin amid accusations of fraud from the opposition. Calderon's first pledges were to act on job creation, poverty and public security.

The new president will hope to improve on the average 2.5 per cent annual growth of the economy achieved since 2000. It won't be easy. Mexico's exports to the US, apart from oil, are losing market share to China - but it is heading in the right direction. According to the World Bank, the country ranks 13th globally in terms of GDP, and poverty levels have decreased from almost 25 per cent in 2000 to well below 20 per cent today.

Meanwhile, there's a need to address the growing violence from drug gangs. Mexico has one of the highest kidnapping rates in the world, and turf wars between rival drug cartels are thought to be responsible for many gangland killings.

In the past year, there have been significant moves in Mexico's media landscape. The Senate approved a new broadcasting law early in 2006. Opponents to the legislation have dubbed it the "Televisa law" after the broadcasting empire that controls 70 per cent of Mexico's television market and a large chunk of radio and publishing.

Previously, broadcasting licences were at the discretion of the Government; now, the power to license and regulate broadcasting will pass to the telecommunications regulator. It looks a little unnerving that the telecoms regulator itself opposed the law, as did the federal competition commission. The law also gives incumbent analogue broadcasters - chiefly Televisa and its rival TV Azteca - digital spectrum free of charge. Critics say this is a gift worth more than $1 billion.

In the summer of 2006, Televisa lost out on the purchase of Univision, America's biggest Spanish-language broadcaster. The channel was founded by the grandfather of Emilio Azcarraga, the owner of Televisa, and it is believed that he may yet find a way of acquiring it. Certainly, the lucrative business of telenovelas, which helped Televisa secure a 24 per cent increase in profit in the first quarter of 2006, may yet afford him the prize of Univision.

ADVERTISING EXPENDITURE
USdollars million at current prices. All years based on average annual
exchange rate. *Estimated
Total Newspapers Magazines TV Radio Peso
2000 3,449 541 392 1,986 530 9.456
2001 3,562 557 409 2,102 494 9.342
2002 3,447 547 329 2,074 497 9.656
2003 3,175 417 346 2,086 325 10.789
2004 3,347 412 339 2,254 342 11.286
2005 3,704 435 370 2,516 382 10.898
2006 3,814 471 454 2,457 432 11.279
2007* 3,961 510 557 2,404 490 11.652
2008* 4,156 553 686 2,359 557 12.001
2009* 4,385 600 843 2,311 631 12.385

Adspend notes 1) Excludes agency commission at 15 per cent. 2) excludes
production costs. 3) Before discounts. 4) Includes classified
advertising up to 2004, excludes classified advertising from 2005
onwards.

FACTFILE
HIGHEST CIRCULATING TITLES
Newspaper: Esto (daily, 320,000 copies)
Consumer magazine: TV Notas (weekly, 790,000 copies)
TOP TV SHOWS
Most-watched TV programme (2005): La Academia IV: Grand Final (Bailando
por un Sueno)
Best new TV format: Codigo Postal (Post Code), a new telenovela
MAJOR MEASUREMENT TOOLS
Circulation: Instituto Verificador de Medios, Certified Audit of
Circulation
Readership: Ipsos Bimsa, Arbitron, Gallup, Nielsen
TV viewing: Ibope
MAIN MEDIA OWNERS
Newspapers: Editora El Sol, Cia Periodistica Nal
Magazines: Editorial Televisa, Gpo Edit Expansion, Editorial Notmusa
TV: Televisa, TV Azteca

THE LOWDOWN

- Media topic du jour

Launched last year and run by TV Azteca, Project 40 is a channel which broadcasts news, opinion, research and debate.

- Reigning media guru and why

The owner of the country's leading communications company, Televisa, Emilio Azcarraga was last year confident enough to try to buy the US number one Hispanic TV network, Univision.

- Media mogul to be seen dining with and why

Isaac Saba Raffoul has rattled the cages of Televisa and TV Azteca. Saba, the Mexican partner of Telemundo, the second largest Spanish-language US broadcaster, is behind the formal request for a rival broadcast television network.

- Car to drive: BMW 7 Series.

- Phone to carry: BlackBerry.

- Whatever you do, don't say: Drug-running and media have a real affinity.

BUZZ MEDIA IDEA OF 2006

The first-ever media appearance for the Splenda sweetener brand through Universal McCann in Mexico. The low-budget campaign used a clever profile - including editorial in cookery programmes and magazine recipes - as well as conventional media, creating a buzz in the market that saw sales climb by 64 per cent.