Government of Mexico and UNESCO Sign Agreement on Media Pluralism in Mexico

Foreign Ministry-UNESCO Joint Press Release

Press Release SRE No. 264


• The agreement allows for the application of the UNESCO Media Development Indicators and promotes investigative journalism in Mexico.

On behalf of the Government of Mexico, the Foreign Ministry and the Social Communications Office of the Presidency signed an agreement with the UNESCO office in Mexico to encourage media pluralism, promote freedom of expression and contribute to strengthening peace, sustainable development and human rights in Mexico.

The agreement was signed by Secretary Marcelo Ebrard; the UNESCO representative in Mexico, Frédéric Vacheron; and, as witness of honour, the President's spokesperson, Jesús Ramírez Cuevas. It will allow for application in Mexico of the Media Development Indicators (MDI) approved by the Intergovernmental Council of the International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC) in 2008, that are currently being applied in over 15 countries worldwide.

The MDIs were created as a framework for institutions and the media to contribute to good governance and democratic development. They are an "important diagnostic tool for all stakeholders to assess media development in a given country and to thereby determine the areas in which assistance is most needed."

Implementation of the MDI requires consultations with multiple stakeholders in tandem with public and private sector participants through surveys, interviews and documentary research. These consultations lead to a series of recommendations based on empirical data for policymakers and those interested in media development, to help them address any deficiencies and promote the conditions necessary for the existence of a free, independent and plural media.

There are about 100 indicators divided into categories designed to:

  • Develop legal, political and social norms that protect and promote free speech and access to public information
  • Determine if the State plays an active role in ensuring multiple news sources, avoiding undue media consolidation and ensuring a level economic playing field and transparency of ownership and content in public, private and community media
  • Promote the media as a platform for democratic discourse, measuring the degree of access granted to all sectors of society, especially the most marginalized, and the media's ability to provide citizens with reliable, objective news and the ability to be heard.

The MDIs measure, among other things:

  • If the language and dialects used by the media reflect local linguistic diversity and are produced for different groups (in Mexico there are 68 languages, including Spanish. More than 7 million people speak an indigenous language.)
  • If community media have the technical capacity to reach marginalized communities
  • If media organizations take diversity into account in their hiring practices, for example, the percentage of women in decision-making and/or management positions;
  • If public media have specific guarantees of editorial independence and funding for their operation; and
  • If media organizations have policies to protect the health and safety of their staff, and if their staffs have access to measures of social protection.

Based on its more than 30 years of experience with the IPDC (the only multilateral fund that mobilizes resources to discuss and promote media development), UNESCO will assist in designing, applying and operating a program to promote Investigative journalism in Mexico to contribute to an active, informed national debate. It will also help with strategies to ensure the conditions for a free and plural media and with capacity building for media professionals.

Under the IPDC, UNESCO has approved over 1,500 projects worth more than 100 million dollars in over 140 countries. The program helped create the Media Development & Diversity Agency of South Africa - MDDA) in 2004, which provides technical support and funds for capacity building for media professionals in that country, as well, in addition to promoting an enabling environment for the development of a plural media.  Since July 11, UNESCO has been in charge of managing a new Global Media Defense Fund, established with initial funding from the United Kingdom and Canada.

In Mexico, it will seek to establish a model that directly addresses the demands of the national media ecosystem and offers alternatives for a plural and independent media that contributes to a stronger democracy and to resolving the challenges faced by the country.