Carlos Slim to get Mexican pay TV licence? Fat chance!

Mexican businessman Carlos Slim Helú.

Image via Wikipedia

by Adam Thomson

Almost imperceptibly, it seems, Mexican telecoms billionaire Carlos Slim has grown to become the biggest provider of paid television in Latin America.

What irony, then, that Mr Slim, who Forbes recently confirmed as the world’s richest man, should have none in his home market.  For years, Mexican authorities have denied him the chance to sell video to millions of fixed-line customers on the basis that the terms of his telecoms concession do not allow it.

In a meeting with a handful of foreign journalists this week, Oscar Von Hauske, who heads fixed-line services at América Móvil, Mr Slim’s pan-American telecommunications colossus, confirmed that the company now had 10m pay TV subscribers throughout the region. And that number is growing by about 250,000 subscribers every month.

Now, though, Mr Slim wants to be in Mexico’s TV market more than ever, and he is going on the offensive to get that message out. Mr Von Hauske told journalists that it was not only desirable, but an increasingly important aspect of being able to compete.

“Everywhere you look, companies are packaging services [of telephone, internet and video],” said Oscar Von Hauske. “If Telmex [Mr Slim’s fixed-line company] does not offer it, it is a strategic weakness.”

Arturo Elias Ayub, head of strategic alliances at Telmex, said that offering customers pay TV was a necessary condition for “competing equally with the rest. We want to give all the services, just like all the others. The important thing is to be able to fight in the market.”

Mr Slim’s renewed push to open the debate and get his operating licence comes just as several competitors in Mexico, notably Televisa and TV Azteca, Mexico’s largest broadcasters, have started to offer packages of “triple-play” services at attractive rates.

Mr Slim has been able to get some of the action thanks to a strategic alliance with Dish, a pay TV provider, which uses Mr Slim’s fixed-line company to provide billing services as part of Telmex’s monthly bill.

But Dish does not carry either Televisa’s or TV Azteca’s content, and even Mr Slim’s people concede that it is at best a stop-gap measure.

Unfortunately for Mr Slim, no quick fix appears to be available. In theory, a deal reducing the interconnection fees that his telecoms companies charge competitors to complete calls could provide some bargaining leverage: regulators would like to increase competition in Mexico’s telecoms sector, and they might be open to throwing a television licence in Mr Slim’s direction in return for lower interconnection fees.

In practice, however, that seems a long way off. Cofetel, the telecoms regulator, has proved slow to act in the past, and rulings in the telecoms sector tend to get besieged with legal action from the various companies in the sector. The upshot? Mr Slim may find himself without TV for some time to come.

Source: Financial Times Blogs

Posted by: Conrado Garcia Jamin

Further Reading:

Mexico file, beyondbrics

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About northernbarbarians

I'm an activist and advocate for human rights and the establishment of penalties to the simulators and inconsistent. My fight is for respect for universal rights and freedoms. Journalist various print and electronic media in several countries. Independent research analyst of social risks in unions, political, corporate and institutional image. Four books published and three in electronic version. Live one day at a time, even on payments, sometimes alive yesterday. Modest income is the price of freedom.
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