Mexico's Senate OKs members of new telecoms regulator

MEXICO CITY Tue Sep 10, 2013 10:33pm EDT

Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim looks on before he gives a speech at Mexico's school of engineers during an event to mark the 50th anniversary of his engineering degree, in Mexico City May 28, 2013.REUTERS/Henry Romero

Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim looks on before he gives a speech at Mexico's school of engineers during an event to mark the 50th anniversary of his engineering degree, in Mexico City May 28, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Henry Romero

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MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico's Senate on Tuesday approved seven nominees to head a new telecommunications regulator created by a sweeping sector overhaul that seeks to boost competition and tame billionaire Carlos Slim.

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.

The reform creating the agency was approved by Congress in April and signed into law by President Enrique Pena Nieto in June.

The new commissioners, nominated by the president, will be able to rule on which companies are dominant. If the regulator then decided such firms had abused their power to stay on top, their Mexican operations could be broken up.

They are also likely to make Slim's companies share infrastructure and create a tariff regime that makes them charge rivals less to access the vast phone network he operates.

Gabriel Oswaldo Contreras, tapped to head the commission, previously worked as an legislative adviser within the president's legal office, according to a government website. He will serve until 2020.

On Tuesday the Senate also gave the nod to six out of seven nominees selected to head a separate and newly created competition authority known as the CFCE.

(Reporting by Alexandra Alper; Editing by Eric Walsh)

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