Mexico TV mogul Salinas says telecoms watchdog does not go far enough

MEXICO CITY, April 7 Mon Apr 7, 2014 5:16pm EDT

MEXICO CITY, April 7 (Reuters) - Ricardo Salinas, the billionaire owner of Mexico's TV Azteca, said on Monday that the new telecommunications regulator, created by a phone and TV industry overhaul, does not have sufficient power to effectively police companies it deems too powerful.

Mexico is trying to open its telecoms industries to more competition following last year's passage of landmark legislation that targets the vast market shares enjoyed by Carlos Slim's telecoms giant, America Movil, and broadcaster Televisa.

Late last month, Mexico's government sent to the Senate proposed legislation fleshing out the details of the reform. Mexico's high telecoms prices and patchy service are viewed by many as a drag on economic growth.

Unlike America Movil and Televisa, which were both declared dominant by Mexico's Federal Telecommunications Institute (IFT) and are thus liable to tough new policing, TV Azteca was not declared dominant.

Neither was Iusacell, the cellphone company run jointly by Salinas' TV Azteca and Televisa, which competes against America Movil. Slim's company controls 70 percent of the mobile sector.

Under the terms of the proposal, the IFT will be able to force companies to seek annual approval annually of rates that competitors will have to pay America Movil to use its infrastructure.

It will also have the final word on interconnection tariffs, including when they are disputed.

Speaking at an event to drive investment in Colombia, Salinas, whom Forbes magazine ranks as the world's 163rd richest person, with a fortune of $8.1 billion, generally praised the new legislation but said the IFT did not go far enough in policing dominant companies.

"The IFT came up short in its measures surrounding dominant companies, particularly in terms of everything to do with interconnection," he said. (Reporting by Gabriel Stargardter; EDiting by Steve Orlofsky)

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