(Adds background, details on Slim)
MEXICO CITY, July 8 Mexico's lower house of
Congress on Tuesday gave general approval to legislation to
reform the country's phone and TV markets and rein in telecoms
tycoon Carlos Slim and broadcaster Televisa.
Lawmakers passed the general framework of the bill just as
Slim's phone giant America Movil said it aimed to
reduce its market share in telecoms in Mexico below 50 percent,
delivering a boost to the government.
Opposition lawmakers made dozens of reservations on parts of
the legislation that will be debated on the floor of the lower
house. Final approval is likely to stretch into the night as
lawmakers work through the reserved articles of the law.
The law is expected to pass without any major changes.
Mexico's Senate approved the legislation on Saturday and the
bill will be sent to President Enrique Pena Nieto for
publication once it is given final approval.
The bill fleshes out a constitutional reform that Pena Nieto
pushed through Congress last year in a bid to increase
competition in phone and television markets.
For years, critics have complained that America Movil and
Televisa exert too much power over the daily lives of Mexicans.
America Movil dominates the fixed-line, phone and Internet
markets, while Televisa is the top broadcaster and
biggest player in pay TV.
The approval of the so-called "secondary laws" has been
delayed by more than six months, complicating the work of a new
regulator, the Federal Telecommunications Institute (IFT), that
has already imposed tougher regulation on the two giants.
The approval of the telecoms law opens the door for Congress
to pass separate secondary legislation on the government's most
ambitious reform, the opening of Mexico's oil and gas industry
to private investment after a 75-year state monopoly.
(Reporting by Miguel Angel Gutierrez and Michael O'Boyle;
Editing by Richard Chang)