Mexican court says broadcasters' debates violated election laws

Following the Mexican Electoral Court's decision to investigate more than 60 radio and television stations for interviewing candidates for the governorship of the state of Michoacán, the National Congress of the Radio and Television Industry sent a letter to the Federal Electoral Institute (IFE in Spanish) asking for clarification of the rules regarding the broadcasting of debates, reported the newspaper Milenio.

Despite the assurances of three electoral advisers that the debates would be permitted, provided the candidates do not buy air time, the IFE sanctioned two gubernatorial candidates in the state of Nayarit for participating in a debate broadcasted on a local television station outside the time assigned by the electoral institute, according to the newspaper El Universal.

Because of the ruling, the radio station Radio Fórmula canceled a debate between gubernatorial candidates in Mexico City, which was broadcast online on Jan. 13, reported the station.

Confusion over the debates and interviews with candidates stems from electoral reform passed in 2007, whereby the IFE assigns and regulates official time for broadcasting political campaigns and prohibits political parties from buying air time from radio and television broadcasters.