MEXICO CITY Billionaire Carlos Slim pulled advertising from Mexico's top broadcaster after ad rates spiked by 20 percent, a Slim spokesman said on Sunday, in a deepening rivalry between two of the country's top tycoons.
But while Slim's enterprises say they would have had to pay higher prices to advertise with Televisa, a spokesman for the media giant said any firm that had not bought advertising early faced an increase.
"The Slim companies did not participate in the upfront," the Televisa spokesman said, referring to an auction in which companies secure discounted advertising needs for the year.
"By not participating in the upfront, any advertising buy has a different (higher) price. This applies to all clients, not only to Slim companies," said the Televisa spokesman, who did not specify what increase would typically apply.
Ad revenue from Slim's companies, including retailers from Grupo Carso, Telmex and Telcel, the commercial brand of giant cellphone company America Movil, accounted for about 1.5 percent of Televisa's revenue last year, the broadcaster said on Friday.
That percentage represents roughly $70.5 million based on 2010 sales results, while the Slim spokesman said annual advertising spending with Televisa was close to $100 million.
Animosity between Slim and Televisa's owner Emilio Azcarraga has heightened in the past year as they have explored expanding their operations into each other's natural markets.
Slim, with a personal fortune estimated at above $50 billion by Forbes magazine, has been banned by the Mexican government from tapping the television market, where Azcarraga is king.
Azcarraga moved into Slim's phone empire via his cable company, Cablevision, which bundles fixed-phone, television and Internet.
Last year, Televisa's intention to move into the mobile phone sector via a deal with NII Holding's Nextel Mexico fell apart.
Telmex is the leading provider of fixed-line phone and Internet broadband services in Mexico, and Telcel leads the country's wireless phone market with 64 million clients.
Analysts said last week that the loss of Slim's companies as advertisers would not have a big impact on Televisa's 2011 performance.
However, Slim's decision could prompt competitors in the telecom or retail sectors to ease on their ad spending with Televisa once their top rival is out of the picture.
(Editing by Dale Hudson)