MEXICO CITY, July 4 Mexico's Senate on Friday
gave its general approval to legislation needed to implement a
reform of the phone and TV markets that seeks to rein in
telecoms tycoon Carlos Slim and broadcaster Televisa.
The Senate voted 80 to 37 to approve the bill in its general
terms, but opposition senators reserved dozens of articles for
further debate that was expected to stretch into the night.
Lawmakers from the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party
(PRI) appeared to have enough votes with their allies to
overcome objections from opposition senators. Once through the
Senate, the bill will pass to the lower house for final approval
The legislation fleshes out a constitutional reform that was
proposed by President Enrique Pena Nieto and approved by
Congress last year. The law established a new regulator, the
Federal Institute of Telecommunications (IFT).
In March, the IFT declared Carlos Slim's America Movil
and broadcaster Televisa dominant on the
basis of their market share, subjecting them to tougher
America Movil controls about 70 percent of Mexico's mobile
market and 80 percent of the fixed-line business.
Televisa, the world's biggest provider of Spanish-language
content, has over 60 percent of the free-to-air TV market as
well as being the biggest player in the pay TV market, if its
cable and satellite business are combined. Televisa was declared
dominant in broadcast TV, but not in the pay TV market.
The so-called secondary legislation was supposed to be
approved months ago and clarify the scope of the IFT's new
powers to promote competition and regulate the phone, TV and
Critics of the proposed legislation said lawmakers aligned
with Televisa are trying to make dominance dependent on a firm's
market share in the whole of the telecoms or broadcasting sector
rather than particular services, such as pay TV.
Sen. Javier Corral, from the conservative National Action
Party (PAN) said the law would allow Televisa to continue to
gain market share in the pay TV market without facing
"The only real dilemma is if Televisa will be subjected,
once and for all, to competition," he said.
Televisa has been accused by critics of using its media
machine to help Pena Nieto win the presidency, although it has
denied the accusations.
Both America Movil and Televisa have used legal maneuvers to
beat back efforts to regulate them in the past, though the
reform aims to curb their ability to do so.
(Reporting by Michael O'Boyle; Editing by Kim Coghill)