MEXICO CITY – Mexico’s television networks no longer enjoy the dominant role they had in 2012, when backing from giant Televisa was crucial in electing President Enrique Peña Nieto, while the social media supplanting traditional platforms don’t belong to any party or faction, journalist Jenaro Villamil told EFE.
In his book, “La rebellion de las audiencias” (The Revolt of the Audiences), Villamil describes the flight of media consumers to non-traditional platforms and interactive spaces.
The veteran election-watcher also analyzes the links between Mexico’s political class and the leading media outlets, especially Televisa, which dominates the television landscape.
Villamil predicts that the “paradigm shift” will become evident in the 2018 presidential campaign as candidates discover that “paying big money to television networks doesn’t guarantee you victory.”
“Social media will play a much important role, there will be an increase in the trend we have seen in the past two years, toward using them as tools for smear campaigns or mechanisms for candidates’ personal promotion,” Villamil said.
He says that politicians cling to the mistaken idea that spending money to have a presence on Facebook or Twitter will guarantee “that users will see them and will believe them.”
The environment of social media “is absolutely random and very critical” and full of hostility toward the political class, and because of that it is a mistake to assume that communications automatically translate into votes,” he said.
“Social media are nobody’s allies,” Villamil said. “The net is an abstraction. The ones who are allies or adversaries are the users, the audiences.”
Television is still the dominant media, with 98 percent of Mexican households having a TV set, but “the real debate happens in the digital world, which is even ahead of the newspapers’ agenda.”
Villamil attributed 60 percent of decline in influence of Televisa and the much-smaller TV Azteca to a “credibility crisis,” with technological change accounting for the other 40 percent.