Did the network make the nation?

I recently did a design project where I re-branded Mexican TV network Televisa. The old logo is supposed to be an eye looking through a television screen. I did several different logos and sent them to my instructor with an explanation that basically said they would probably piss off most Mexicans who saw them.

Exhibit #1:

televisa_hollywood

“Blasphemy!” Mexicans will say. We are not some cheap copy of the US.

…which brings us to Exhibit #2:

televisa_mexicanos

This is the one that I knew would cause the most controversy, but perhaps it’s also the most telling. Mexicans are fond of accusing Televisa of meddling in an already flawed political system; the most recently elected President, Enrique Pena Nieto, appears to have been the beneficiary of favorable coverage on Televisa. So the relationship between network and nation is an especially fraught one for Mexicans, and they are not likely to appreciate a logo that ties the two so closely together.

But, really, no media outlet is completely impartial, and the question becomes whether the bias is obvious or well-concealed. Some biases seem pretty harmless, such as the CBC’s left-wing bias as alleged by Ezra Levant(!). Some are a little more suspect, such as Venezuelan network Venevision’s sudden swing to the Chavista camp in 2005, and some are downright insidious, such as North Korea’s KCTV. Despite this, I have never heard anyone speak as bitterly of media bias as Mexicans do about Televisa’s skewed coverage.

Granted, Televisa has a 70% market share of the Mexican broadcast market. And The Guardian’s 2012 report that Televisa actually sold favorable coverage to their longtime political bedfellows, the Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI), is disheartening to say the least. What I find interesting about this is that every single Mexican I have even spoken to about this (too many to count) is aware of and furious about this situation. Perhaps this is just my own personal bias, but I get the distinct impression that the majority of Mexicans know how things go down between the PRI and Televisa. Are there uninformed masses of which I am not aware? Perhaps.

If my conclusion is correct, then why on earth did Mexicans vote the PRI into power? And should receiving favorable coverage be a reason not to vote for a party? (If the PRI paid for it, then, yes.) There are a few more interesting parts to this story that don’t add up.

Once in power, one of Pena Nieto’s first proposals was a bid to de-monopolize the telecoms industry, which would spell disaster for Televisa. And, lo and behold, the damn thing actually passed in June! Why would the PRI attempt to dissolve a monopoly that served it so well in the past?

Another part of this story that doesn’t sit well is the odd half-retraction letter that The Guardian and Televisa jointly issued in February of 2013. The letter basically states that The Guardian’s reports of the PRI buying favorable coverage from Televisa were “impossible to verify beyond doubt”, and at times blames these reports for causing the unrest in Mexico during the elections. Perhaps the June 7th reports sparked some unrest, but the real shitstorm began on May 11th, when Pena Nieto was booed off the stage at a university for failing to adequately address students’ questions on his record of misuse of force against protesters. I find something wholly sinister about the tone and very existence of the letter, which was obviously the product of an extended legal struggle between the two outlets. Perhaps that’s just the Mexican in me….

Despite their deep mistrust of Televisa, Mexicans will sit down every night to watch their favorite telenovela (or favorite five telenovelas in my case)–in many cases, even the men will watch! Mexicans’ intense relationship with Televisa serves as a cultural rallying point and a way to unite a nation that is surprisingly individualistic in many ways.

televisa ad 2

And the men aren’t too bad either…

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