Mexico Senate eyes tougher fines in bill targeting Slim, Televisa

MEXICO CITY, July 1 Tue Jul 1, 2014 11:10pm EDT

MEXICO CITY, July 1 (Reuters) - Mexico's Senate has proposed allowing tougher fines against telephone companies and broadcasters in a new draft of legislation that aims to curb the power of telecoms tycoon Carlos Slim and broadcaster Televisa.

The revised legislation could allow the sector's new regulator - the Federal Institute of Telecommunications (IFT)- to impose fines of up to 10 percent of a company's income, or possibly up to 20 percent if violations are repeated.

That is double the impact of potential fines suggested in earlier legislation.

The IFT has been granted sweeping powers to police the sector, including the ability to break up dominant players. The highest fines could be imposed on companies that disrupt services without justification if the operator is the sole provider in the affected area.

Slim's phone giant America Movil controls about 70 percent of the mobile market and 80 percent of the fixed line business, while Televisa, the world's biggest provider of Spanish-language content, has over 60 percent of the free-to-air TV market.

The legislation, which fleshes out a radical 2013 overhaul of the TV and phone markets, is expected to be voted on in the coming days.

The debate over the telecoms laws has held up passage of separate secondary legislation needed to implement President Enrique Pena Nieto's most ambitious reform, the opening of Mexico's oil and gas industry to private investment after a 75-year state monopoly.

($1 = 12.9394 Mexican Pesos) (Reporting by Dave Graham and Tomas Sarmiento; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)

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