Public radio in Mexico protests new broadcast law by repeating single song all day
MEXICO CITY – About 15 public radio stations across Mexico staged an unusual protest against a proposed broadcast law on Wednesday: each station repeated a single song all day long, interspersed with ads against the measure.Many commercial broadcasters, meanwhile, aired ads supporting the bill, which would allow frequency holders to digitalize their entire analogue frequency.Critics say the bill favors big, corporate media outlets, puts public stations at a disadvantage and makes little provision for the entry of new broadcasters.”A country without plurality in media would be like listening to the same song all day long,” the ad on public stations said. The protest included the 15 AM and FM radio stations of the Mexican Radio Institute, or IMER, a public radio chain.”If this law is approved, public radio stations could disappear,” IMER said in a press statement. “Mexico needs a new law, one that upholds plurality, inclusiveness and equality, not one that favors private interests over public ones.”The National Chamber of Radio and Television, which includes private broadcasters, ran frequent ads on Wednesday in support of the bill.”The industry needs transparency and legal certainty in order to modernize and provide more and better services to the public,” those ads said.Public radio stations in border cities like Tijuana, Ciudad Juarez and Ciudad Acuna played a single satiric norteno song, “The Whole Truth,” by the Tigres del Norte, or a rock song.Others across the country repeated a protest song, “If the Singer Falls Silent,” by Argentina’s Mercedes Sosa, or traditional Mexican tunes, such as “We’ll Get this Donkey out of the Gulch.”The bill, currently before the Senate, would allow broadcasters to fill their existing analogue frequency spectrums with many kinds of digital services.Critics say that concessions should limit frequencies to only certain uses, and that any bandwidth left over after digitalization should revert to the government and be offered at a new auction.Opponents also say the switch to digital from analog should be used to encourage competition in the market, which is dominated by a few big broadcasters, both in radio and television.Under the proposed law, big broadcasters would automatically get huge chunks of digital spectrum, while potential newcomers to the market would have to pay for additional spectrum that is put out for bidding.Supporters of the bill say the new law will foment competition by making more services available and by ending the practice of the government handing out concessions by decree. It includes incentives to air more locally made television programming.Vail, Colorado
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