A 102 Years Path
As in many other Latin American countries the history of mass media consumption in Mexico starts with the newspaper.
The oldest newspaper, El Universal, which is still in circulation was founded in 1916. Back then, the newspaper was considered as a communication medium only for the country’s elites – at the beginning of the 20th century, 80% of the population on national level was illiterate.
According to the last update from the Mexican government’s National Registry for Printed Media, the country currently counts around 20 newspapers with nationwide circulation and around 180 regional ones. In Mexico it is common that the big publishing groups such as the Organización Editorial Mexicana (Mexican Publishing Organization) have at least one newspaper with national, several with regional and additional ones with local or city coverage.
It is impossible to know how many newspapers are printed per day since every newspaper reports the numbers as it finds convenient. The numbers are normally inflated to attract sell advertising at higher rates and no official institution audits the newspaper’s circulation figures. According to the 2017 Module on Reading survey conducted by the National Institute of Statistics and Geography 46,6% of the Mexicans - around 60 million – read newspapers.
At the beginning of the last century, high illiteracy rates in the country pushed for the fast spreading of radio as a mass communication medium for having the potential of reaching out to all social classes. The first commercial radio in Mexico started transmission in 1923 and was broadcasting a mixture of popular music with news, which were almost always supporting the existing governmental discourse.
Currently more than 2,000 radio stations are broadcasting in Mexico, three quarters of them on FM (Frequency Modulation). In November 2017, the Mexican government assigned 141 new radio frequencies for FM and AM (Amplitude Modulation) transmission. For 98% of the Mexicans the radio represents a source for accessing information and opinion formation.
The television has similar percentage of usage as the radio. A study published last year by the Federal Telecommunications Institute found that 98% of the Mexican households own a TV set.
Since the launching of the first TV channel in 1950 the increase of its usage has been constant: 8 out of every 10 viewers watch free-to-air television programs offered by 15 channels. Today, 56% of the Mexicans have access only to free television and 14% pay for additional channels.
According to data from the Mexican government, the most watched free television genres by Mexicans are news with 56%, followed by soap operas, movies, series and sports programs.
The media consumption by means of the Internet has also witnessed rapid growth in Mexico: in 1994 the Internet became a commodity for Mexicans, reaching 70 million web users in 2017 which represents almost 63% of the total population.
Mexicans spend around 8 hours per day connected to the Internet, which has caused a flood of web sites. According to a study dated from June 2017, the marketing research company ComScore found that from the 6,418 web sites observed, 222 are news-related sites that shape public opinion. The most visited news web site is eluniversal.com.mx, which is owned by the oldest Mexican newspaper El Universal and has 17 million users every month.