Televisa, TV Azteca fined by government

Mexico’s federal electoral commission (IFE) and media congloms Televisa and TV Azteca have been brawling over political advertising.

And this month, the IFE sought to end the dispute by levying fines totaling some $300,000.

But to Televisa and TV Azteca, the fines amount to little more than a slap on the wrist in their effort to defy a 14-month-old law that makes it illegal to buy TV time for political advertising, and forces them to run a set amount of ads in primetime … for free.

Both webs fought the law and have been pushing the edge ahead of the July 5 federal election.

First they colluded to run simultaneous six-minute blocks of political ads in the middle of soccer games, popular children’s programming and even the Super Bowl. The move had pols and bureaucrats calling for blood.

The following weekend they didn’t run the ads at all, sparking the IFE fines. The congloms’ lawyers are already appealing.

But it’s worth it for the webs to eat the fines. With ads in primetime worth an estimated 1 million pesos ($67,000) per minute, Televisa and Azteca made far more money flouting the law.

And while the IFE has the legal teeth to force the stations to suspend broadcasting, it has to choose between backing down or facing enraged soccer fans and telenovela addicts who might be happy to flex their own muscle at the ballot box.

Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more