Two newspapers in Mexico create cable news channels, will compete against country's TV duopoly

Two daily newspapers in Mexico have created their own cable television news channels to compete against the limited coverage that Mexico's network duopoly provide the country on broadcast television. Starting on Sept. 2, Excélsior, the oldest paper in Mexico, will begin broadcasting a 24 hour news channel under its brand using its own reporters.

The new channel will compete against Milenio Televisión, a 24-hour news cable channel started in 2008 by the newspaper of the same name. In Mexico, Televisa dominates the television market with a 70% share  and also has 60% of cable viewership through its cable providers Cablevisión, TVI, Cablemás and Sky, according to CNN Expansión.

Currently only 27.4% of Mexican television owners watch subscription-based television, although the access is rapidily growing due to the entry of new cable providers that offer more afforable prices, according to El Economista. In May,  Mexico's Congress approved legislation on telecommunications reform, which aimed to increased competiton by providing two new channels on broadcast television.

Both Milenio and Excélsior belong to large media conglomerates in Mexico and their editors and reporters often participate on radio and television programs of other affliated businesses.  Milenio is part of Grupo Multimedios, a company based in Monterrey that owns 37 radio stations, 13 local televison stations, 18 local newspapers, a chain of movie theaters, and a publishing house. Excélsior was bought in 2006 by Grupo Imagen, which owns several radio stations and the cable channel CadenaTres.

Many of their reporters have repeatedly participated on Imagen's radio programs and the TV channel CadenaTres in Mexico City. Now Excélsior TV will include specialized news programs on national politics, international affairs, sports and specials, as well as breaking news.

"All of the newspaper's sections are going to double as a television channel," explains Pascal Beltrán del Río,  Excélsior's editorial director and the new channel's main anchor.

For the new TV channel, the company built a television studio in the Excélsior Building, better known as The Corner of Information. "We are training print journalists to do television instead of having people just read the news," said Beltrán del Río in a telephone interview with the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas.

Uploaded videos to Excélsior's site were the first step in creating a multimedia platform with the goal of reaching different demographics.

"People who watch videos online are younger while the television channel will draw an older crowd interested in information," said Beltrán del Río.

Cable television newscasts seek to diversify Mexico's options as media entrepreneurs wait to bid on two new national broadcast channels as required in the telecommunications reform law passed in May.

“People in Mexico are every day even more eager for political news, reason why they are questioning and comparing the news more. We are not going to take over (with the news channel) but rather augment the range of options," said Beltrán.

Shown below is the launch video for Excélsior TV.

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.

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