The Bullying of Community Radio

28 Jun

Inside Voladora Radio

There are often odd stories coming my way from Mexico – the kinds of stories that leave a person indignant and that invariably highlight the vast gulf between the people who run that country and those who have just have to deal with them with their greed and obtuseness.

Just yesterday I learned of a verbal attack on a humble community radio station in the town of Amecameca in Estado de Mexico called Voladora Radio. Up and running for ten years now, it is one of many such under-funded little stations maintained usually by poor or ethnic communities to provide information on what matters to them rather than what matters to politicians and corporations selling them stuff.

This latest attempt to bully Voladora comes from one Jaime Ramos, a consultant with the largest, if not only, body representing Mexico’s largest and wealthiest media owners (television and radio), the National Television and Radio Industry Chamber, or CIRT.

Now the background to what has inspired Jaime Ramos’s fit of pique is the requirement by the official electoral authorities that all media devote time to commercials produced by all the different political parties already jockeying for position in next year’s presidential election. What Voladora has been doing is running the ads with a proviso, before and after each, stating that they do so against their will and obliged by political parties in which they have no faith. In other words, they tell the truth.

But what really bothers Jaime Ramos is that these small radio stations are being officially recognized now, given airspace that the oligarchs of the CIRT want in order to make more money for themselves. The idea of grassroots radio stations getting broadcast rights for programming without ads for junk food, or news casts that tell only half a story, or inducements to watch crappy telenovelas  — without, in sum, the cheery party line that all is well in Mexico as long as the status quo is not challenged – is what is really driving them round the bend.

For the Mexican powers-that-be, especially in the intellectual desert that is the media, losing even a little bit of control is portrayed as catastrophic. Yet the fuss they are making only illuminates just what idiots they so often are. And their assumption that broadcast rights are something to be divvied up among enterprises with money and profit motives is yet another indication of how comfortably they rob the general populace of their nation’s resources.

Another great shot from Ivan Daniel.

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