frivolity, cost overruns and technical failures

Monday 15 April, 2024
4 mins read


The INE should review the formats, privileging that citizens see a real debate, instead of wasting on artificial scenarios for three ‘nice’ monologues.

There is a detail from Sunday’s debate that few people have heard about: in the final stage of the negotiations between the representatives of the presidential candidates, counselor Carla Humphrey, president of the Temporary Debates Commission of the National Electoral Institute, informed the table that, within the television set, there would be chairs for four additional guests who had not been planned.

The notice surprised Iván Escalante, Max Cortázar and Juan Zavala, representatives of Claudia Sheinbaum, Xóchitl Gálvez and Jorge Álvarez Máynez, respectively, after more than a month of arduous negotiations to define the place of the debate, format, moderators, colors of the backgrounds , guest lists, chairs, dressing rooms, camera layout, lights, microphones, lecterns, stopwatches…

Every last detail had been negotiated between the Debates Commission, the National Coordination of Social Communication of the INE, the production house Full Circle Media and the representatives of the parties. But on Thursday before the debate, Humphrey carried the Council presidency’s message, not as a consultation, but as an instruction.

In addition to the candidates, a companion and the production team’s technicians, there would be four chairs inside the set, for the presidential advisor Guadalupe Taddei, the advisors Norma Irene de la Cruz and Rita Bell López and the advisor Jorge Montaño.

Although during the negotiations it was always established that no one outside the debate would enter the studio, at the last minute Taddei and his fans had decided to watch the program in the front row and in VIP places.

Humphrey’s announcement caused faces of surprise, discomfort and complaints, but in the end the representatives of the candidates gave in, and on Sunday, Taddei and his people were there, a few meters from the stage where the debate took place.


It was not the only frivolity that will mark the history of this debate.

It is worth remembering that, for this event, the INE decided to build a television set specifically on a wooden platform placed on the so-called “horseshoe of democracy”, in the middle of the INE General Council room.

A whim of electoral counselors that caused this first debate to raise its costs to 10 million pesos, as reported on Saturday by counselor Dania Ravel, in the conference in which the debate stage, created right in the so-called “house of democracy”.

Having built a television set within the INE absorbed more than half of the resources of the contract that the institute signed with the consortium created by the production company Full Circle Media and MVS Net SA de CV, to participate in the bidding for the three debates of the 2024.

The ruling of the national public tender 002/2024, to award “the comprehensive service for the design, pre-production, production, transmission, recording and post-production of the 2024 debates between the candidates for the Presidency of the Republic” establishes that the economic offer of this group – accepted by the institute – was 19 million 125 thousand pesos, and includes the three debates.

However, the counselors said on Saturday that the one on April 7 alone had already cost 10 million, and even counselor Dania Ravel clarified that the figure was approximate and that the consolidated costs would be announced later.

Technical failures

The expenditure of 10 million pesos in the first of the three debates, however, did not prevent technical errors from being made that, today, in the heat of the post-debate, are being used as arguments – not to say pretexts – by the campaign teams. , and the candidates themselves, to justify their performance in the debate.

The most visible and criticizable error is that of the stopwatches that, because they wanted to be managed from a computer and with sophisticated software, ended up counting more seconds than the participations lasted, subtracting time from the candidates’ purses and causing complaints that were raised. within the debate itself.

In an unprecedented scene, after the experience of 10 presidential debates organized by the IFE and the INE, Claudia Sheinbaum blurted out in full broadcast: “the PRIAN candidate even wants to steal the time bag,” while the moderator Denisse Maerker struggled to explain to them that the poorly timed seconds would be replaced in the third segment, to ensure equity in the participations.

In the early hours of Monday morning, the INE issued a statement justifying its technical failures, and released a table with the exact time used by each candidate: Sheinbaum, 25 minutes and 8 seconds; Máynez 25 minutes, 4 seconds, and Gálvez 25 minutes, 3 seconds.

Although the stopwatch was not the only error: there were also complaints about the audio at the beginning of the broadcast and the “strange” shots that were taken with the cameras while one of the candidates spoke.

Technical details that surprised, since the producer of the debate is not a rookie, it is Ray Sinatra, creator of Full Circle and who produced the three debates of 2018 and the documentary that the INE made about it, when his production company was called Habanero Movies.

Sinatra charged the INE 45 million pesos for the 2018 debates, which involved technical complexities such as building a stage at the Mining Palace; another in a gymnasium at the University of Baja California, in Tijuana, and one more in the Museum of Mayan Culture in Mérida, Yucatán.

Does the INE not learn?

It is assumed that the 2024 debates would have to be much cheaper than those of 2018, or at least that is what the “new INE” headed by Guadalupe Taddei has said.

In fact, the public tender launched for the production of the debates establishes a maximum cost of 23 million pesos, but 10 million have already been spent.

What is surprising is that the INE – as happened in 2018 – has once again made the expensive decision of building and destroying a television set, to fulfill a whim: in this case, that the first debate took place in “the house of democracy” or, rather, on a stage flown above the “horseshoe of democracy.”

Two debates are missing: one at the Churubusco Studios, on April 28, and another at the University Cultural Center, on May 19, where scenarios that do not exist will also have to be built.

Scenarios for a debate that should privilege the exchange of ideas, the contrast of personalities, the ability to argue passionately, snatch the floor, ask, respond, attack and counterattack. And today they favor “looking good” on TV.

Why not privilege citizens to see a real debate, and not an “unpublished” scenario for three beautiful monologues?

Why not hold the debate in the professional forums that institutions like Channel 11 already have? Or even, why not rent a forum to a private television station, where there would be no need to set up cranes, cameras, lighting, cables, microphones, backgrounds and stages that later go in the trash?

And if they are going to waste again, couldn’t they at least make sure that the most basic thing, such as the stopwatch, doesn’t fail?


Political Animal / @Pajaropolitico

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Source: from Noroeste Nacional on 2024-04-10 04:02:00

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