May 15, 2013
A Mexican law to boost competition in telecommunications and media gained approval from a majority of state legislatures, surmounting its final hurdle for passage. “It’s a historic day for Mexico,” Jose Ignacio Peralta, deputy communications minister, said in a message posted on Twitter announcing the milestone. President Enrique Pena Nieto has already pledged support for the bill, which passed both houses of Congress last month.
The proposal seeks to increase investment and reduce prices in the phone and pay-television industries and to create more choice in broadcast TV. It would create tougher conditions for America Movil SAB, which has 70 percent of Mexico’s mobile-phone subscribers, and Grupo Televisa SAB, which gets 70 percent of the nation’s broadcast-television audience.
May 1, 2013
The Wall Street Journal, 4/30/13
Mexico’s Senate on Tuesday adopted legislation to revamp the country’s telecom market, giving final congressional passage to a bill intended to increase competition and end quasimonopolistic practices. The telecom reform, proposed by Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto and the main parties of the opposition in early March, is seen as a game-changing effort that gives the Mexican state enlarged powers to rein in longtime dominant players such as billionaire Carlos Slim’s America Movil SAB (AMX) and Grupo Televisa (TV), the world’s largest Spanish-language television network.
The vote in the upper house was 108-3 in favor, ratifying a revised bill passed by the Chamber of Deputies last week. It obtained support across the political spectrum, from Mr. Pena Nieto’s Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, to the right-wing National Action Party, or PAN, and the leftist Party of the Democratic Revolution, or PRD. With the congressional approval, the bill now has to be passed by a majority of state legislatures, a process that will likely be a formality, lawmakers said. Mr. Pena Nieto could sign the bill into law in June, they added.
April 26, 2013
Mexico’s lower house sent a bill to increase competition in telecommunications back to the Senate, paving the way for tougher regulators to challenge the dominance of America Movil SAB and Grupo Televisa SAB. The proposal, also backed by President Enrique Pena Nieto, must be approved a second time by the Senate because of a small change in wording in the lower house version of the bill. Then it requires the signoff of a majority of legislatures in Mexico’s 31 states and capital. Under the bill, new government agencies would have the power to force companies that control more than 50 percent of the market to share or even sell assets.
Lawmakers aim to increase investment and reduce prices in the phone and pay-television industries and to create more choice in broadcast TV. The proposal would create tougher conditions for America Movil, which has 70 percent of Mexico’s mobile-phone subscribers, and Televisa, which gets 70 percent of the nation’s broadcast-television audience.
April 22, 2013
The Wall Street Journal, 4/19/13
Mexico’s Senate on Friday passed a telecommunications reform bill that aims to increase competition and development in the industry and rein in the market power of dominant players. Senators voted 118 to three in favor of the bill in the early hours, and returned it to the lower house of Congress, which has to approve a number of changes that senators made to the proposal. The lower house had already passed the bill.
President Enrique Pena Nieto sent the telecommunications proposal to Congress in early March, seeking to give regulators increased powers to improve competitive conditions in the market, raise investment, and rapidly expand access to broadband services at more affordable rates.
April 1, 2013
The New York Times, 3/31/2013
Mexico’s new president, Enrique Peña Nieto, has proposed reforms that could make monopolistic industries like telecommunications more competitive, bolster oil production and improve the government’s finances. The proposals are commendable and could transform Mexico’s economy. But success is far from guaranteed.
Mexico has long failed to take full advantage of its many assets, including big energy reserves, a growing middle class and access to the American market. One obstacle has been crony capitalist policies that have concentrated economic power in the hands of a few oligarchs. As a result, Mexicans pay much more for goods and services like phone calls, medicines and airfares than the citizens of most other advanced countries, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
March 26, 2013
The New York Times, 3/26/2013
Few topics get Mexicans more worked up than their country’s cellphone service, especially that provided by the dominant carrier, Telcel. “Their rates are really high, and then there’s no signal sometimes,” said Armando Gómez Fuentes, 42. “The signal goes away really quickly. It’s a mess.” But there he stood recently at a Telcel store, waiting to buy a new phone, resigned to the dominance of the carrier, which controls 70 percent of the Mexican market, and doubtful that the country’s smaller rivals could do any better.
It is that well of popular frustration — over poor cellphone service, limited programming on television, flagging schools — that President Enrique Peña Nieto has tapped in a series of attention-getting moves that he promises will “transform Mexico” and accelerate growth in an economy that has expanded too slowly to lift the country out of the developing world.
March 22, 2013
Mexico’s lower house of Congress approved a modified proposal to increase competition in the telecommunications and media industries, inserting changes that benefit broadcasters Grupo Televisa SAB (TLEVICPO) and TV Azteca SAB. The bill was approved 393-98 at 4:11 a.m. local time today to be delivered to the Senate, according to the house’s website. It will require the vote of two-thirds of the Senate. At least parts of the legislation will also need constitutional changes, which have to be approved by a majority of legislatures from 31 Mexican states and the capital.
In a measure to let foreigners own as much as 49 percent of Mexican broadcast networks, lawmakers added a “reciprocity” clause requiring outside investors to come from countries that also allow stakes of that size in their media industries. That could cut down on investment from companies from the U.S., which has a restriction of 25 percent foreign ownership in many cases. Televisa and Azteca, both based in Mexico City, account for almost all of Mexico’s broadcast-television audience. The telecommunications law calls for creating two new broadcast networks through an airwave auction. Comcast Corp.’s Telemundo, a U.S. Spanish-language network, had sought to air in Mexico as recently as 2006, when it was owned by General Electric Co.
March 22, 2013
Mexico’s lower house of Congress gave broad approval Thursday night to a telecommunications reform that threatens to loosen tycoon Carlos Slim’s grip on the phone market and broadcaster Televisa’s dominance of the airwaves.
The proposal attracted overwhelming support, with 414 lawmakers in favor of the reform and only 50 opposed. Lawmakers must still vote on amendments to the bill, which has dampened confidence in Slim’s prospects, though investors are hopeful the Mexican tycoon can at least partly offset curbs to his phone empire by entering the television market.
March 21, 2013
El País, 3/18/2013
It has not been uncommon over the past weeks to hear the people on the streets of Mexico City say such phrases as: “I would have never thought…” or “Who would have said…?” These exclamations represent a general sense of astonishment at the battery of initiatives adopted by President Enrique Peña Nieto in his first 100 days in office.
In just three months, the 46-year-old Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) leader has drastically changed the political landscape left by his conservative predecessor, Felipe Calderón. Peña Nieto has generated hope and expectations both inside and outside Mexico, which is nothing short of amazing coming from someone who was criticized during last year’s campaign for being a candidate fabricated by Televisa, the country’s powerful broadcaster, as well as by the PRI.
March 15, 2013
The Mexico Institute’s “Weekly News Summary,” released every Friday afternoon summarizes the week’s most prominent Mexico headlines published in the English-language press, as well as the most engaging opinion pieces by Mexican columnists.
What the English-language press had to say…
On Monday, President Enrique Peña Nieto furthered his legislative agenda by unveiling plans to reform Mexico’s telecommunications and television sectors. The reforms, he introduced, “represent challenges for the businesses of this sector, but they also open new opportunities.” Televisa, led by Emilio Azcárraga, and América Móvil, owned by Carlos Slim, the world’s richest man, both issued statements welcoming the proposals. Reuters reported that while the reforms may significantly reduce both companies’ revenue, they may also represent an opportunity for Slim and Azcárraga “to make inroads into each other’s territory.”
The Financial Times was impressed with Peña Nieto’s boldness, pointing out that in his first 100 days as president, “he has taken on the rich and powerful in ways that seemed impossible less than a year ago.” The Economist, meanwhile, warned that if Peña Nieto’s reforms succeed, opposition parties may have a hard time gaining voters’ support in the 2018 presidential elections. Analysts highlighted the growing importance of the Pacto por México in advancing Peña Nieto’s legislative agenda, and anticipated tax and energy reforms are next on the list.
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