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free television giveaway A couple pick up their free TV during last year's giveaway.

Free TVs are OK, but the slogan must go

Electoral institute stops short of halting the program until elections are over

Giving away free television sets is fine, but the federal government slogan that appears on the packaging will have to go.

That was the ruling of the National Electoral Institute (INE) this week after a complaint by the political party Morena, or National Regeneration Movement.

In anticipation of a nation-wide conversion to digital television service next year, the federal government decided to give away 24-inch digital TVs to low-income citizens. The Communications and Transportation Secretariat will hand out a total of 13.8 million sets by the time the 27-billion-peso (US $1.8 billion) program wraps up this year.

The government has been accused of playing politics with the TV set giveaway because this is a mid-term election year. Adding some fuel to that fire was the inclusion of the federal slogan “Mover México,” or “Moving Mexico,” on the box in which the sets are being delivered.

Morena complained, and the INE agreed: the slogan must come off the box and off the clothing of anyone engaged in the delivery of the sets.

But the institute did not go along with Morena’s proposal that the delivery of sets be suspended until the elections, scheduled for June 7, are over. It ruled that the program is intended to promote equal opportunities and access by citizens to information.

One criticism of the program is that its goal could have been accomplished at far less cost by giving away a 600-peso decoder — the TVs cost about 2,000 pesos — to convert the new digital signal to analog and avoid the need for a TV upgrade. But the official response is that the new televisions will also offer the option of Internet access.

Source: El Financiero (sp)

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