Mexican TV station criticized for suspending broadcast of soccer match during firefight

On Aug. 20, 22 soccer players started to run for the locker room before the first half was over in Torreón, Mexico. Television anchors and commentators could hear gunshots and explosions outside the New Corona Stadium where the Santos and Morelia teams were playing. Minutes later TV Azteca, owner of the broadcast rights, suspended transmission of the game and stopped reporting on the events inside the stadium, according to the local newspaper El Siglo de Torreón. TV Azteca, Mexico's second biggest television network, replaced coverage with a comedy.

"The coverage was irresponsible," criticized Javier Garza, editor in chief of El Siglo de Torreón. "It's not about continuing the broadcast out of morbid curiosity," he added. After the firefight, telephone networks were overwhelmed and family members of the 20,000 attendees at the stadium had no way to communicate with their loved ones or know if anyone was hurt, according to Garza.

At this time, it's unknown who made the decision to suspend the broadcast or why. Television critic Álvaro Cueva and journalist Martha Anaya noted that it could be a case of self-censorship.

When TV Azteca stopped broadcasting, citizens used social networks like Facebook and Twitter to keep themselves informed, reported Periódico Digital.

ESPN, broadcasting over cable, continued covering the game with commentators describing the events and interviewing the retired soccer player Jared Borgetti, who played for Santos, noted the sports website MedioTiempo.com.

Other local and national media outlets like Milenio Televisión, Mutlimedios Televisión, ForoTV and Cadenatres covered the firefight though social media and their staff, according to Cueva.

Garza says his newspaper informed the public in real-time through its Twitter account and only published information confirmed by the authorities. "We do not publish rumors without confirmation and we tried to report on the events inside the stadium to keep the people calm," said Garza.

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