MEXICO CITY, April 18 Four Senate commissions on
Thursday approved a major overhaul of Mexico's
telecommunications sector that aims to loosen tycoon Carlos
Slim's hold on the phone market and end broadcaster Televisa's
dominance of the airwaves.
The bill aims to stir up competition in the industry by
allowing more foreign investment, and by giving regulators the
power to force dominant players in the market to sell assets.
The full Senate is due to vote on the bill Friday.
The reform defines dominant players as those controlling
more than half of their respective markets. If declared
dominant, companies will not automatically be forced to sell
assets if regulators believe they are not impeding competition.
Slim's phone company America Movil controls some
80 percent of the fixed line business and around 70 percent of
the mobile market. Televisa has more than 60
percent of the TV market.
The bill unanimously approved by the Senate commissions was
largely unchanged from the version passed last month by the
lower house of Congress with a notable exception.
The revised document opened up the possibility of allowing
companies to suspend, pending appeal, fines or orders issued by
the main competition watchdog that they must divest assets.
That could water down the bill put forward by President
Enrique Pena Nieto, which sought to put an end to firms using
Mexico's byzantine legal system to fight regulatory decisions,
which Slim and Televisa have frequently done in the past.
However, the reform may still be modified before the Senate
If passed by the full Senate, the bill returns to the lower
house of Congress for approval. Lawmakers from Pena Nieto's
Institutional Revolutionary Party say the bill should be
approved next week.