Mexico's TV Duopoly Loses the Day to Competition Lobbyists

07 June 2007

MEXICO CITY: Antitrust campaigners in Mexico are breaking-out the tequila after a notable victory in the nation's Supreme Court, which on Tuesday struck-out key elements of a media law introduced last year.

The law, enacted at the behest of Televisa and TV Azteca, which together control over 90% of Mexico's broadcast television industry, had caused public outrage.

Over the last four weeks, the Supreme Court has heard testimony both from proponents and opponents of the controversial law and on most of the issues brought before them, the judiciary ruled against the duopolists.

One of the court's final decisions concerned a clause that concerned the spectrum freed-up by Mexico's switch to digital broadcasting.

This clause, endorsed by the government, would have allowed Televisa and TV Azteca to use the spectrum to offer telephone and internet services without paying for a license.

It is common in other nations for spectrum to be auctioned for hundreds of millions of dollars.

The court also endorsed the ability of Mexico's recently elected reformist president, Felipe Calderón, to personally appoint members of the Federal Telecommunications Commission, which is perceived as uncomfortably close to the TV duo.

Crowed a jubilant César Hernández, a lawyer at Mexico City research group, the Center of Research for Development: "This really does imply a much more adverse environment for monopolies."

He added that the TV companies had "trampled on all the political leaders and this is the backlash".

Data sourced from New York Times; additional content by WARC staff