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Fox News to Go Dark Before Vote

Times Staff Writer

Fox News Channel is going off the air in Mexico in advance of Sunday’s presidential election to steer clear of that country’s restrictions on campaign ads and public surveys, cable channel executives said Wednesday.

Fox News decided to temporarily halt transmission into Mexico because of concern that the channel’s coverage would violate a ban on opinion polls or campaign commercials in the days before the election and jeopardize the standing of the cable and satellite companies that distribute its signal.

“I just don’t think we had much choice,” said Janet Alshouse, senior vice president of international distribution for Fox News. “We can’t restrict our coverage.”

The channel planned to go dark at 12:01 a.m. today and resume transmission after the polls close Sunday evening. A message in Spanish and English will tell viewers that Fox News is temporarily unavailable.

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It was unclear Wednesday whether any other organizations planned to pull their signal in advance of the election. CNN International and CNN en Espanol plan to remain on the air, spokeswoman Caroline Rittenberry said.

Mexican law prohibits the dissemination of surveys in the eight days leading up to an election, as well as any campaign activities in the three days before the vote. In a memo to Fox News, officials said that electoral law also barred the discussion of citizens’ political preferences and analysis of candidates’ weaknesses in the run-up to the vote.

Fox News is available in 3.3 million of the 4 million homes in the country that have cable or satellite service. Unlike CNN and BBC, which have separate domestic and international feeds, Fox News distributes just one signal to 88 countries.

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Times researcher Carlos Martinez in Mexico City contributed to this report.


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