Since the late 1970s, the Mexican state has developed an indigenous-language radio network of 24 stations. Now the state has invented a new media formula: 'radio stations with community, indigenous participation'. In 2004, the government commission of indigenous affairs applied for (and obtained) broadcasting permits for three low-power stations. From in-depth interviews with radio practitioners and government officials, documentary analysis, and field observation, this article documents and evaluates the new model and analyses the shift in Mexico's indigenous communication policy. Based on Stephen Riggins' theories on ethnic-minority media, the theoretical framework considers the incompatibilities between the emergence of citizens' media and the processes of state formation in Mexico. The authorities presented the project as a sign that the media were being transferred to the indigenous peoples. Three years after their first broadcast, the stations had little citizen participation, depended technologically and financially on the state, were ideologically conditioned by their government links, and had not become a forum of expression for the communities.