Despite a speech against the media, Mazatlan Mayor expands its media budget to $ 13.9 million

Contrary to the austerity plan of the Fourth Transformation, the government of Benítez Torres in Mazatlán not only increased the resources allocated for official advertising expenses, but also hires “informal” media that do not meet the requirements of the Ministry of the Interior and the General Law of Social Communication is violent

With everything and that the Mayor Luis Guillermo Benítez Torres assures that he will no longer “give” money to the media to allocate it to the needs of the people, this position has not been reflected in the allocation of budgets for official advertising, since in practice, resources for dissemination increased and to a large extent they are distributed among media that are outside the current legal framework.

While in his speeches he proclaims that “crab eyes” for the media, the government of the morenista increased this item from 12.5 million to 13.9 million pesos, according to the expenditure budget and the distribution of resources scheduled for 2019, which may be consulted on the City Council portal.

It is true that until July 31, 2019, only 30 percent of those resources had been spent (4.2 million pesos), both in pending payments from the previous administration and in the means already contracted by the current one.

However, in the use of these resources, a lack of transparency prevails when not publishing advertising agreements, in addition to other irregularities: as public officials within the list of suppliers and attempts to manipulate editorial lines.

While at the federal level, groups of journalists fight for media with freedom of expression, which are not subject to censorship or pressure via official advertising, in local governments, such as that of Mazatlán, the arrival of the Fourth Transformation has not meant a fundamental change in the discretionary use of public monies for propaganda spending.

Contracted media: outside Segob regulations

In contempt of Article 35 of the General Law of Social Communication, the Mazatlán City Council hires media that are not registered in the National Media Registry of the Ministry of the Interior. Of the 30 companies and communicators that appear in the current list of providers of the Social Communication department, only four cover this requirement.

This is because most are web portals or Facebook pages that are beyond the control of regulations and there is no official standard, in part because legislators have not applied themselves to regulating digital platforms and their hiring for official dissemination campaigns.

Breakdown of advertising spending by the Mazatlán City Council from the entry of the new municipal administration, where it is observed that in December one of the largest disbursements was made to pay debts from the previous administration. And although the minimum expenditure was maintained during the first five months of this year, it shot up in recent months.

According to a review that Northwest made to the contents published in these media, they are informative spaces that are mainly dedicated to covering official events and copying and pasting the contents produced by the municipal government’s communication area, without major journalistic content.

Meanwhile, although the General Law of Social Communication is precisely a general law and is observed by both states and municipalities, the lack of regulation prevails locally.

In Sinaloa, the deputy Karla Montero Alatorre, of the Social Encounter Party, presented an initiative last June that sought to regulate advertising spending by the State Government and the local Congress to avoid the waste and discretionary use of those resources. He proposed the creation of a state register, which would give the same validity to electronic and digital media as to print. But until now, it remains suspended within the pending issues of the legislative body.

Jorge Contreras Núñez, Director of Social Communication, ensures that this media proposal fulfills its function of informing citizens of both regular and emerging government actions, effectively and without increasing spending, since they are adjusting to what approved by Cabildo.

Likewise, it rejected that there is discretion in the hiring of media, since its selection has been justified by market studies that can be requested by any citizen.

A projection that has been increasing

On April 4, 2019, Benítez Torres declared to the Northwest that the budget for broadcasting throughout the year would be 8 million pesos. When requesting the data from the Coordination of Access to Public Information, the Budget Control department reported that it was almost 12.5 million.

But when reviewing the last modification to the expenditure budget, information that is public in accordance with the Law of Transparency and Access to Public Information of the State of Sinaloa, this amount rose to 13.9 million pesos. Even when on December 28, 2018, the councilors voted for an expense budget that marked savings in this area .

This amount is even higher (by 4.3 percent) than that allocated by the PRI Fernando Pucheta Sánchez in 2018, who assigned 13.3 million pesos for the conclusion of institutional advertising agreements between the City Council and print and electronic media, both local as regional.

Comparative

Difference between spending on advertising and information dissemination in the previous administration and the current one.

With this, the Mayor of Mazatlan contradicts the austerity agreement signed by President Andrés Manuel López Obrador to set the tone for communication policy after the announced regime change.

The issue of official publicity was highlighted a few weeks ago, after “El Quimico” disqualified the media criticizing his government, arguing that they “beat him” because he has not given them contracts as they did before.

” Ignore them, they are crying because we do not give them money, ” he said on July 31 during the delivery of paved streets in popular neighborhoods of the port, where with insults he directly accused Noroeste, El Debate, Grupo Pacific Televisores and Sinaloa. online.

Spent

Breakdown of advertising spending by the Mazatlán City Council from the entry of the new municipal administration, where it is observed that in December one of the largest disbursements was made to pay debts from the previous administration. And although the minimum expenditure was maintained during the first five months of this year, it shot up in recent months.

The ‘blessed’ social networks

Portals and Facebook pages with news content in cyberspace have proliferated in recent months. In Mazatlán, many of them are financed – either partially or totally – with resources from the municipal coffers.

30 companies and individuals appear as providers of official advertising or information services. All by direct award.

Reflecting the decline of conventional media, 12 are mainly websites and 11 spaces without their own platform, which use social networks to transmit messages to their audience. Only four are programs or radio stations, while there is only one television and one print medium.

The contracts

This is the list of media and people that the City Council has hired for advertising and dissemination of information, according to data obtained from the City Council’s Transparency portal.

Of the 30 included in the list, only five are registered in the Segob National Media Register or in the General Directorate of Radio and Television and Cinematography (DGRTC): Grupo Promomedios Mazatlán, Reporteros EN (Semanario Riodoce), Comercializadora Siete de México and Megacable Noticias.

In the specific case of Sistema Periodístico de Sinaloa, SA de CV (Northwest) it is not included among the providers of the City Council, despite being in the national register of the Segob.

Because the agreements have not been published, it is not possible to know the specific detailed concepts for which the media were hired, nor the amounts, except for eight that were provided after a citizen request for access to public information.

However, the director of Social Communication of the Commune said in an interview that the concepts of payment are for official advertising, in addition to the fact that the selection made was made through a study to confirm their social support.

“They are media that are formally registered with all their rights to work and also accredit advertising; There is no contract that is not supported by the series of requirements that are requested, which is registration with the Treasury, and it is clear that they are contracts for advertising, ”said Contreras Núñez.

Of the eight agreements that were obtained by request for transparency, the one with the highest amount is with Grupo Promomedios for 348 thousand pesos. It is followed by Comercializadora Siete de México, another radio company, with 167 thousand pesos; while the Qué Pasa portal in Mazatlán, 121,800 were assigned to it. All unique contracts that span a period of three months, on different dates.

In the general register, there are recently created spaces that have no other support than social networks, and are dedicated almost exclusively to replicating the material produced by the municipal government through its press area: Noticias En Uno, Mazatlán and the South Urbano, Carlos Gil Lage, Mazatlán is my Land, MSN News Sinaloa and Cuarto Poder, this one with a contract for 104 thousand pesos for three months.

On the other hand, there is the agency Show Box SA de CV, which does not appear in the list of suppliers, but in that of direct payments, which was hired for almost 2 million pesos for advertising the box fight on July 20. , which the Mayor boasted as the Father’s Day gift to the Mazatlecos.

Meanwhile, by replicating the guidelines at the federal level, large broadcasters such as TV AZteca and Televisoras Grupo Pacífico, previously a subsidiary of Televisa, have left privileged consortiums in other governments.

Meanwhile, Northwest (Sistema Periodístico de Sinaloa SA de CV), which has also been left out of the municipal register, has received from this administration the amount of 177 thousand 589 pesos for outstanding debts and for publications mainly of calls to which the City Council is required by law to publish in a print medium with wide circulation.

Both nationally and locally, discretion prevails in the hiring of media for official advertising, according to groups of journalists who are striving for greater transparency in the press-government relationship. But other irregularities have also been found.

Officials-suppliers and other anomalies

Bypassing article 6 of the Procurement, Leasing and Services Regulations of the Municipality of Mazatlán, among the contracted media there are officials or their immediate family members. This is the case of Susana Elizabeth Guevara Cazadero, to whom a payment of 23,200 pesos was issued on June 26. She is the daughter of Susana Cazadero, an official of the Patriotic Board department and administrator of the fanpage Así es mi Tierra.

A similar case is that of Cándida Cristal Vázquez, who appears in the register despite the fact that since July she served as press officer of the Ministry of Public Security, until her departure in recent days in the midst of a conflict with a journalist , who accused her of generating information leakage from the agency.

In his name, on July 26, 34 thousand 800 pesos were paid for portal advertising during the months of March, April and May.

The head of the Social Communication area claimed to be unaware of both cases. As for Vázquez, he indicated that his contract terminated when he joined the City Council payroll.

“Perhaps they have not downloaded it from there, but we do not work like that, that is false,” replied Contreras Núñez.

Other irregularities that have been documented are the attempts to dictate “line” to the media by the Municipal President and officials through the hiring of advertising space.

The Collective of Journalists for Peace and Freedom of Expression registered a situation that is illustrative of this type of practice.

On May 25, the Mayor announced that he would publish the list of media with which his administration has agreements, after considering that he is unfairly criticized and “only the bad is published” of his government. The Collective of Journalists for Peace and Freedom of Expression noted that this was an attempt at intimidation and coercion.

In a statement, this body recalled that the media have guaranteed the full exercise of free expression regardless of the hiring and dissemination of government propaganda, in terms of articles sixth and seventh of the Constitution.

In the Rapporteurship of Attacks and Information Blocks so far in 2019, prepared by this same group, journalist Mario Martini denounced that the press chief of the city council pressured him to be separated from a radio program, following the publication of some notes where, according to his testimony, the corruption and incapacity of the government of “El Químico” Benítez was evidenced.

“On May 14 or 15, Contreras spoke with the producer, and although he did not ask him directly, he suggested an advertising contract in exchange for withdrawing from the program,” said Martini, who also filed a lawsuit against the same public servant for alleged threats.

It is worth mentioning that these accusations were also denied by the director of Social Communication of the City Council, who assured that he has a good relationship with the journalistic union.

If these indications are verified, the General Law of Social Communication -regulatory of the constitutional Article 134 in its eighth paragraph- would be violated, yet it is a legislation considered insufficient by the Free Media group, made up of journalists from all over the Country with the purpose of promoting a reform that, finally, throws clear rules and avoids arbitrariness in official advertising.

So much so that this Law has been branded as the “Chayote Law”, which was approved in April 2018 after the Senate received the order of a judge to legislate on the matter, after an appeal filed by the defense organization of free expression Article 19.

The cast

This is how the municipal administration of Mazatlán distributes its spending on advertising and information dissemination.

Press-government: a perverse relationship

For the researcher and teacher of CIDE (Center for Economic Research and Teaching) Carlos Bravo Regidor, the expression of “Chayote Law” is unfortunate when referring to the General Law of Social Communication.

Chayote is not synonymous with official advertising, he clarifies.

In this way, it has been labeled a practice whereby the media or journalists compromise their editorial freedom in exchange for monetary or other benefits.

“We must be clear about the terms: that this is to influence coverage, while official advertising can be perfectly valid,” noted the specialist, who has a master’s degree in history from the University of Chicago.

Incidentally, article 8 of the LGCS establishes that Social Communication campaigns must promote tourism, education, health and civil protection campaigns, without neglecting “the dissemination and knowledge of constitutional values, principles and rights”.

The heart of the problem – emphasizes Bravo Regidor – continues to be discretion, which allows a “perverse” press-state relationship.

“There is a historical problem in Mexico in the press-government relationship, and that is that it has been in official advertising, I would not say control, because it is a very strong word, but it is an instrument of undue influence,” he said.

However, he warned, the media are not necessarily victims of this dependency, but also benefit from it, to the detriment of democracy, freedom of expression and the right to be informed by citizens.

“There is a structural problem and that is that the media have become accustomed to living on public money; When you compete for public money, it is difficult not to compromise your editorial freedom, ”said the collaborator of Este País, Etcétera, Letras Libres, Nexos, La Razón, El Universal, Horizontal and other media.

Even, he continued, this made Mexico lag behind in the global trend of massive closure of print media.

“That had not happened here because official advertising has functioned as a market distorter.”

In his opinion, the solution is not to eliminate it, but to establish clear rules for contracting informational spaces, based on the public and social utility of the information.

A change of route was raised on April 19, 2019, when President Andrés Manuel López Obrador announced the halving of the broadcasting budget, in contrast to the more than 50 billion pesos that his predecessor, Enrique Peña Nieto, spent between 2013 and 2017.

But the bottom of the conflict – the analyst reflected – is not solved with the mere reduction of the budget, although it is positive, since old practices are repeated with the now youtubers, portals and supposedly independent media, which are dedicated to throwing “easy balls” to the President of the Republic and to revile journalists who dare to criticize.

WHAT DOES THE LAW SAY?

The General Law of Social Communication regulates Article 134 of the Political Constitution of the United Mexican States:

[…] Eighth paragraph

Propaganda, under any form of social communication, disseminated as such by the public powers, autonomous bodies, dependencies and entities of the public administration and any other entity of the three levels of government, must be institutional and for informational purposes, educational or socially oriented. In no case will this advertisement include names, images, voices or symbols that imply personalized promotion of any public servant.

Article 35 (LGCS):

The Media that intend to participate in the hiring of Social Communication referred to in this Law, must be previously registered in the National Register of Media, in charge of the Ministry of the Interior.

Article 8.- Social Communication Campaigns must:

I. Promote the dissemination and knowledge of constitutional values, principles and rights; II. Promote tourism, education, health and civil protection campaigns, among others;

III. Inform citizens of their legal rights and obligations, of relevant aspects of the operation of obligated subjects, and of the conditions of access and use of public spaces and services;

IV. Comply with the obligations in electoral matters established by the applicable legislation;

V. Announce preventive measures of risks or that contribute to the elimination of damages of any nature for the health of people or the ecological balance and protection of the environment, as well as in matters of civil protection;

SAW. Disseminate the national languages ​​and the historical heritage of the Nation;

VII. Communicate public programs and actions,

VIII. Others established in the laws.

Source: noroeste.com.mx

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