Mexico to auction 2 TV channels

Friday, June 08, 2012    

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MEXICO CITY, Mexico - Mexico's broadcast regulator is moving to increase competition in television by ordering an auction of two new nationwide channels in a market now dominated by two large networks.

The Federal Telecommunications Commission has not made clear if now-dominant Televisa and TV Azteca will be allowed to bid.

Telephone magnate Carlos Slim has been trying to get government permission to enter Mexico's pay-television market.

Wednesday's statement from the commission says it will be the first auction of television frequencies in the country's history. It says Mexico is seeking to diversify TV content and offer alternative outlets for information and entertainment.

Last year, the two biggest broadcasters, announced they would get together to battle Slim who they complain controls the cell market charging high fees. Seventy percent of the cellular phone business in the country is controlled by the billionaire's Telcel.

Televisa, the world's largest Spanish-language media, announced last April that it would pay US$1.6 billion ($140 billion) for a 50 per cent share of the mobile-phone operator Iusacell. The company is property of the Salinas Group, which operates TV Azteca, the second biggest television operation in Mexico.

Regulators rejected the deal in February, reportedly citing concerns about the effects of a de-facto alliance. Televisa appealed and a new decision has yet to be announced.

Slim has also accused the networks of blocking his attempts to enter the TV market. His bid was to offer television in a bundled service that would also include telephone and Internet.

Last year he was denied the request saying his telephone company discriminates toward competitors by not allowing other carriers to connect efficiently.



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