News Mag Hot In Mexico

A soaring crime rate in Mexico is translating into boffo ratings for “A Traves del Video,” a Sunday evening news magazine from Televisa that now ranks alongside the hottest telenovelas at the top of the national ratings.

With a household rating that reached 35 points on Dec. 3, “A Traves del Video” is the TV sensation of the year in a country unused to investigative TV journalism. “This program is the product of a new Mexico. The media is freer and more combative, the authorities more tolerant and objective,” says the show’s producer, Guillermo Ortega Ruiz, who also anchors Televisa’s weekday breakfast show.

Launched in May, “A Traves del Video” (which loosely translates as “Through the Video Camera”) is an original format that investigates the kinds of crime that affect most Mexicans.

The show encourages viewers to call in with cases of their own, and then has them participate in taped re-enactments of crimes. Sometimes the show employs candid-camera techniques to lure the unwitting into committing acts of fraud or bribery on video.

One recent setup caught a midranking judicial official in the act of demanding a 5,000-peso ($650) bribe. The official was subsequently fired. Ortega says the show is educating the public to protect itself against criminals, be they corrupt cops, sleazy bureaucrats, kidnappers, thieves or scam artists.

“The show could easily be sensationalist, but it has taken care to combine a social service with the news,” Ortega says.

The mag avoids depictions of blood and violence.

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