In a Classic Oprah Move, the Mexican Government Is Giving Away 10 Million TVs

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Mexico is spending insane amounts of money in its race to switch from analog to digital signals by the end of December. The country is giving out 10 million TVs, each valued at $145. The TVs are free for low-income families. That’s a grand total of $1.6 billion, and a lot of criticism for President Enrique Peña Nieto. According to The Miami Herald, some are questioning why EPN didn’t sign off on the cheaper decoder boxes that still allow analog TVs to work. (Though, they have an answer for that: analog TVs are less energy efficient.) One TV recipient, José Luis Rodríguez, called out the government’s use of the word free. “Stop using that word,” he said. “It’s paid for with our taxes. It’s not free.”

As of now, the government has given out almost 5 million TVs, with 30,000 to 40,000 being distributed every day. This number would have to be doubled for them to reach 10 million by December.

Televisa and TV Azteca are the two reigning networks in Mexico, and they will be getting competition from a third (Grupo Imagen) as of next year. Grupo Imagen will have 123 channels, while Televisa has 220 and TV Azteca runs 180. However, Televisa might be more concerned with YouTube encroaching on their territory. Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México professor Miguel Ángel Pérez explains that these channels just can’t compete with YouTube because vloggers are coming up with niche content. “The reason YouTube beats broadcast TV is because the availability of content is so large that people can pick exactly what they want to see, while traditional TV is stagnant,” he said, according to El Universal. “YouTubers and bloggers release content that is closer to the people; they are closer to their interests and their everyday life.”