In a country plagued by cartel violence, it should come as no surprise that some Mexican lawmakers are looking remove “narconovelas” from the country’s primetime television schedule. Lawmakers argue that airing shows like “La Reina Del Sur” and “El Señor de los Cielos” before midnight is a violation of the guidelines established by the Federal Telecommunications and Broadcasting Law – guidelines that are supposed to prevent excessive sexual themes and violence from airing during primetime. Sexuality and violence are the bread and butter of any good narconovela.
Lawmakers worry that children may be exposed to explicit content if the shows air before midnight.
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In an interview with Radio Formula, Zoé Robledo, President of Mexico’s Senate Commission of Radio and Television, stated that he does not want to “ban” these shows. He just wants them moved to a more “appropriate” hour. By airing these shows at midnight or later, children are less likely to be exposed to shows where crime is glorified and bad guys are seen as heroes.
Conservative activists worry narconovelas are ruining the moral fabric of society.
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Francisco González, president of the activist group “In Favor Of The Best,” has raised concerns that narconovelas aren’t just damaging to children. In Mexico, a country where people own more televisions that refrigerators, narconovelas have the potential to “influence the conduct and the aspirations of millions of Mexicans.” Francisco is also concerned that these shows are turning tragedy into profit, a sentiment echoed by other narconovela critics.
This isn’t the first time narco-based entertainment has faced criticism.
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In 2011, the state of Chihuahua outright banned narcocorridos, which they doubled down on in 2015. People caught singing or distributing tributes to cartels are subject to fines of $20,000 and possible jail time served. The states of Sinaloa and Coahuila also laid down restrictions for the narco-based music in 2015. Some argue that these government restrictions are just symbolic, considering how much violence remains in these regions.
Love or hate it, narconovelas represent trend in entertainment that can’t be ignored.
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As traditional telenovelas drop in popularity, narconovelas have swept in to pick up the slack. The content is gritty, dramatic, action packed, and based around events that dominate national headlines. When El Chapo was arrested in January, DVDs of the popular “La Reina Del Sur” were found in his home, a ringing endorsement if ever there was one. Their appeal is obvious even if the subject matter leaves politicians and conservatives concerned. And as long as the popularity of these shows exists, networks won’t give up their primetime shows without a fight.