Mexico’s telecommunications regulator said Thursday that it completed its investigation to determine which companies are dominant in their respective markets, and will unveil the results once the companies have been notified.
Mexican authorities are about to strike a bold blow to phone companies of tycoon Carlos Slim, and leading broadcaster Grupo Televisa, in a bid to stoke competition in their near-monopolistic markets, according to a person familiar with the situation. Mexico’s new telecoms regulator is expected to next week declare Televisa and America Móvil units Telmex and Telcel as dominant in their respective sectors.
Mexico’s new telecommunications regulator suffered its first legal setback, postponing a decision Wednesday on rules under which broadcasters must offer their channels to pay-television systems following a court ruling.
A Mexico City judge Monday notified the Federal Telecommunications Institute, or IFT, that it doesn’t have the power to order the free transmission of certain broadcast channels, the IFT said. The court’s opinion stems from a 2011 legal dispute between Grupo Televisa SA TLEVISA.MX -0.81% B, the country’s biggest broadcast company, and satellite-TV provider Dish Mexico.
On Wednesday, the IFT’s seven commissioners had been scheduled to determine guidelines under which broadcasters must make their channels available free to cable and satellite-TV operators and those pay-TV providers must distribute the channels to their customers.
Mexico’s government is preparing a complex formula to identify dominant phone and media companies, aiming to keep industry giants from manipulating numbers to avoid regulation, said a person with knowledge of the plan.
The nation’s new telecommunications regulator won’t determine the biggest companies in an industry just based on their subscribers or viewers, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the details aren’t public. Rather, the calculation will include a range of measurements, including investments and infrastructure.
Under a law passed last year, companies that have been found dominant in Mexico face tougher scrutiny and enforcement measures, including regulation of the prices they charge and even the forced sale of assets. The government’s rules are most likely to affect America Movil SAB (AMXL) and Grupo Televisa SAB (TLEVICPO), which were already identified as dominant companies in a preliminary finding in December.
Giant Mexican telco America Movil and broadcaster Televisa, the two companies likely to be most affected by the country’s telecoms reform, said on Thursday the regulator has told them it was determining whether they are dominant players in the sector.
The notifications are the first step in a process mandated by a telecoms reform passed by Mexico’s Congress earlier this year that gives the new Federal Telecommunications Institute (IFT) powers to clamp down on dominant players and spur competition.
Telefonica SA (TEF) has approached potential acquisition targets and partners in Mexico, where it’s seeking to challenge billionaire Carlos Slim’s dominance, according to three people familiar with the matter.
Spain’s biggest telecommunications operator has held discussions with companies including Grupo Iusacell SA, a smaller rival co-owned by Ricardo Salinas and pay-TV provider Grupo Televisa SAB, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the deliberations are private. Banco Santander SA (SAN) and Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria SA (BBVA) are working with Madrid-based Telefonica, another person said.
Telefonica SA has approached potential acquisition targets and partners in Mexico, where it’s seeking to challenge billionaire Carlos Slim’s dominance, according to three people familiar with the matter.
Spain’s biggest telecommunications group has held discussions with companies including Grupo Iusacell SA, a smaller rival co-owned by Ricardo Salinas and pay-TV provider Grupo Televisa SAB, said the people, asking not to be named because the deliberations are private. Banco Santander SA and Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria SA are working with Madrid-based Telefonica, said another person familiar with the matter.
Mexico’s new telecommunications watchdog said on Monday it may identify this month which companies dominate the local market, likely paving the way for tougher regulation against telecom company America Movil and broadcaster Televisa.
Gabriel Contreras, president of the Federal Telecommunications Institute (IFT), said the watchdog would in the near future inform the companies it had determined to be dominant, adding that it could be as soon as this month.
The regulator, known as Ifetel, will replace a weaker regulatory agency and have new powers to police a telecommunications market dominated by Slim’s America Movil and Televisa. America Movil controls some 80 percent of the fixed line business in Mexico and about 70 percent of its cell phone market. Televisa has more than 60 percent of the TV market.
General overview of the telecoms regulatory scheme:
The telecommunications industry in Mexico is currently mainly regulated by: the Federal Law of Telecommunications, which regulates the use and exploitation of the radio-electric spectrum, satellite communications and telecommunications networks; and the Federal Law of Radio and Television, which regulates all matters related to broadcasting services. Such laws are complemented by several regulations, rules and resolutions that regulate specific fields in the telecommunications sector. Depending on the actual telecommunication service to be provided, a concession, permit or registration will be required.