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05/02/2012

Keeping a debate off the air

A storm is brewing over the first of two major debates between the presidential candidates in Mexico. One of the two major networks says it won’t air the debate. The other has not publicized a decision yet.

The debate comes Sunday night at 8 o’clock and is a major event in the campaign that ends with July 1 elections.

Given the 50,000+ deaths in the past six years, the onslaught from organized crime, lackluster economic growth, and a myriad of other issues, it’s hard to argue that this is not a major moment for Mexico.

Yet TV Azteca owner Ricardo B. Salinas (Twitter: @ricardobsalinas) has cast his bet that viewers will prefer to see a first-division quarterfinals soccer match between Tigres and Morelia at the appointed hour. 

“Now this is a debate! (It is) between an small authoritarian group of Twitter users and a citizenry free to vote for what they want to view,” Salinas tweeted yesterday.

Earlier Salinas tweeted: “If you want debate, watch it on Televisa; if not, watch soccer on Azteca. I’ll show you the ratings the next day.”

Opponents to PRI candidate Enrique Pena Nieto see a nefarious plot brewing. Televisa has not confirmed that it will air the debate. If neither of the two networks broadcast it, then very few viewers will see it.

“If Televisa and TV Azteca don’t put on the debate, it is because they have decided in favor of Pena,” leftist candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said this morning.

Pena is far ahead in the polls, and a debate opens the door to the possibility he may stumble. So having Mexicans watch him in an impromptu back-and-forth with two other candidates poses many risks for vested interests favoring the return of the PRI.

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Serenity Escapes

Peña may not stumble if the press fix is in to lob questions at him as it they were big fat slow softballs...I have to agree with Carlos Fuentes' claim that he will not vote for any of the candidates and that "son mediocres"

Carol Wheeler

Given Pena's history, isn't it almost a certainty that he will stumble? But really if the citizenry is so blind or numbed or cowed or whatever as to not know what he's like already, it probably doesn't matter. Or maybe, given the experience of AMLO "losing" the very close election to Calderon, they see that voting doesn't matter that much.

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Tim

This blog is written by Tim Johnson, the Mexico bureau chief for McClatchy Newspapers.

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