Mexico to penalize creators of TV series seen as 'dirty campaign' against president

MEXICO CITY, Aug 14 (Reuters) - Mexico's top electoral court said on Wednesday it would penalize the creators of a TV series after ruling that they had broken election laws by promoting a "dirty campaign" against President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador when he was a candidate.

The series, called "Populismo en America Latina" (Populism in Latin America), features a segment on Lopez Obrador alongside former South American left-wing rulers such as Venezuela's Hugo Chavez and Brazil's Luiz Inacio Lula de Silva.

Lopez Obrador, a leftist, criticized the series in the months before the July 2018 election, accusing his adversaries of waging a "dirty war" against him.

The court has yet to determine the exact penalties for the series' producers and advertisers, it said in a statement, naming companies Pina Digital, Grupo T.V. Promo and T.V. Promo as well as Javier Garcia, Virna Gomez, Alejandro Quintero and Monica Bolanos.

Pina Digital and Virna Gomez could not be reached, while the other parties did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment.

The court had said in July it would fine Garcia and Pina Digital 350,046 pesos ($17,812) each. Those fines could increase as the court determines the amounts for the other parties, a spokesman said.

The series and publicity for it violated laws that forbid people and companies from distributing paid advertising to influence voters during election seasons, the court's statement said.

Media outlets that ran publicity for the series will not be sanctioned, the court said, in order to guarantee freedom of expression. ($1 = 19.6526 Mexican pesos) (Reporting by Rebekah F Ward, Editing by Daina Beth Solomon and Grant McCool)