Most state governments in Mexico hide how they allocate official advertising funds, report says

A new report found that a majority of the 32 state governments in Mexico hides information regarding their official advertising expenses in media outlets and that none of them has specific rules on how they allocate their publicity budgets. "This discretionary distribution of advertising funds weakens informative pluralism and increases suspicions of political favoritism," said the organization Fundar, which put together the second edition of the report Access to Official Advertising Funds Index along with the Mexican chapter of the press freedom organization Article 19.

According to the document, two thirds of the state governments exceeded the publicity budget approved by local legislators, which reinforced the idea that advertising funds and "discretionary and arbitrary" and that they are used to exert "political control over media outlets," said Ana Cristina Ruelas, with Article 19's Access to Information Program.

The report said that the "champions of opacity" were the states of Coahuila, Guerrero, Hidalgo, Puebla, Tabasco, Tamaulipas, Veracruz and Distrito Federal, while only two states, Mexico State and Colima, submitted all the information requested for the survey.

A 25 percent of the states did not submit any kind of information while others said the information was classified, that it didn't exist or asked the organizations to pick it up at the offices of each state, Animal Político reported.

The organizations also requested information on the approved and spent budget in 2010 and 2011, as well as a copy of the budget itemized by recipients, providers and services.

Video Presentación Índice de Acceso al Gasto de Publicidad Oficial from Article19 on Vimeo.

Note from the editor: This story was originally published by the Knight Center’s blog Journalism in the Americas, the predecessor of LatAm Journalism Review.