Thanks for your comments. Here are some ideas
I do not usually respond directly to questions submitted through the comments section, but here we have an exception.
Given the importance of the industry, I think it’s worth clarifying some issues that were brought up in response to the previous blog entry, where the existence of a television "duopoly" was questioned. Let's take a closer look:
Does the similarity of products imply collusion? There are products that, no matter how simple they are, have become positioned in the public’s preferences.
The popcorn sold in the Cinemex, Cinemark, Cinépolis or any other movie theatre chain is very similar. It does not change much over time, but does this imply collusion? Clearly not. There are many other products that are similar among companies, countries, and over time.
By the same token there are television formats that have maintained their presence throughout the years and that only gradually changes (telenovelas, news, game shows, etc.).
But there is always room for innovation, and when we invent a new format, or improve existing ones, the benefits can be significant for any of the television companies that operate in the Mexican market.
There are other well-known cases of rival companies that have similar products, such as Coca-Cola and Pepsi. But even these companies must fiercely compete for the public's preference, at the same time that they seek to ensure their profitability.
Viewer audiences provide us with guidelines on what people want to see and at what time. For example, in the Americas, in the morning there are newscasts, at mid-morning informational and home entertainment programs, in the afternoon and evening soap operas or series, and late at night, more news. This occurs throughout the world, with some changes in accordance with regional and socio-cultural preferences.
We in the media are obliged to respond to trends and in accordance with the relevance of the information. The example is clear when newspapers publish the same news story in their headlines, without having reached any prior agreement to do so.
We do not consult or seek consensus with anyone concerning our news. We simply respond to the relevance of the news item in question and what the public wants. For example, a few days ago there appeared on the front page of newspapers around the world, and in newspaper headlines, news related to the head of the IMF, and it would be absurd to say that this implies global collusion, even though it doesn’t stop some folks from making the accusation.
At Azteca we will always fight for news scoops, but what’s important is not always the news that you offer as such, but how you present and analyze it.
Concerning Iniciativa Mexico (IMX) Here we did indeed reach an agreement, but not just television companies but all major Mexican media, because we are aware of our responsibility to improve the country’s plight. Under the special circumstances that we face, there are times when media are obliged to act in coordination, and show images that are not appalling to audiences.
Bad TV? Television is one of the few businesses worldwide where the public’s preferences are measured minute by minute. This measurement system is called ratings, which is very sophisticated in many countries, including Mexico.
We know precisely what our viewing audience preferences are, in all our time slots and for all our channels. What we broadcast, good for some and bad for others, reflects what the general public demands.
I can safely say that no other business requires such detailed measurement of customer preferences.
I repeat, what is good is that there are many channel options for every preference, such as sports, the arts, history, in short, for virtually every taste.
But over-the-air television, due to the nature of its business, should reflect the tastes of a more general audience. We cannot afford to only satisfy the likes of intellectuals, although I am sure they would enjoy the programming offered by Proyecto 40.
We offer entertainment alternatives in accordance with an ethical code for content, verified by a committee of specialists that evaluates our programming.
We are respectful of ideologies, beliefs, conditions, and ways of thinking of Mexican society.
We also respect audience rights to choose the programming they desire, a freedom that is displayed in the instant and effortless possibility of changing channels. Once again, there is no product that is easier to change suppliers than television programming, which only requires pressing a button on the remote control. This is precisely why we who are involved in producing television programming must make greater efforts than other businesses, minute by minute, to attract viewers.
A lack of new talent? At Azteca, we opened up the screen to a multitude of voices, directors, and performers who previously had no place in the business and we continue to do so. We have our own Centro de Formacion Actoral (CEFAT) actors’ training school, which has produced great on-screen talent, many of whom have also had successful careers in film, theater, and in other countries.
At TV Azteca and Proyecto 40, we have a staff of employees and leaders of public opinion, whose size and diversity rivals the best television companies in the world.
At the same time, it is also clear that we are in favor of economic freedom and other liberties, and yes, we are proud to have in our ranks Ricardo Rocha, an excellent journalist, very professional and with a long history in the profession.
¿Pautas comerciales excesivas? En Azteca no recibimos subsidios de nadie, ni obligamos al público a pagar una tarifa como sucede en el Reino Unido, donde los televidentes pagan 145 libras al año por el privilegio de serlo.
Excessive commercial criteria? At TV Azteca we do not receive subsidies from anyone, or force the public to pay a fee as in the United Kingdom, where viewers pay 145 pounds annually for the privilege of watching television.
Television is a very expensive business that requires revenue to sustain heavy investments in talent, equipment, engineering, energy (expensive), taxes and a long etcetera list.
To these costs we must add the inclusion of an in-kind "tax," so disliked by the viewer audience, amounting to three minutes per hour of announcements by political parties, for a total of 48 minutes a day. It is a tax because no payment is made for a timeslot whose real cost is quite high. In relation to this, the radio and television industry has its hands tied.
Nevertheless, at Azteca, in regard to the ads contracted by clients, we have a strict control of advertising minutes per hour and the quality of the ads. Our business is to sell advertising space to advertisers so that the TV programs are free for all.
From the beginning, Azteca innovated its advertising rate policies through a payment system based on rating points, which is fairer than charging per minute of advertising time without knowing who is watching. With this, we opened the advertising market to a host of companies that previously had no opportunity to advertise on TV.
This favored companies, and by extension, the economy and it is also good for the public, with more options and the ability to make better informed consumer decisions.
Does Televisa's investment in Iusacell involve a partnership with TV Azteca? Of course not. Both for Televisa as well as for Azteca, it is very clear that we must continue to fiercely compete, minute by minute, for the preference of the viewing public and advertisers. This struggle will continue as a result of the very dynamics of the industry. Given the diversity of entertainment and information options, the survival of both companies is at stake on a daily basis.
Iusacell, although it is part of Grupo Salinas, is independent of Azteca, both in terms of its management and its resources.
There are many cases around the world of strong competitors who decided to make a joint investment and this does not imply that they will no longer be fighting for their key markets, using their core products; this is the nature of a modern and globalized market.
In fact, Televisa and Iusacell are joining forces to fight as a major player in a highly concentrated and inefficient market such as telecommunications. I am confident that this partnership will bring great benefits to consumers, companies, and the Mexican economy, which needs to compete with other nations to create jobs.
I hope that I have responded to the concerns raised by many of my readers. Thank you for participating in the comments section; your contributions always enrich the debate. You can be sure that at Azteca we will continue to strive to produce better television. This is precisely our passion.