Mexico Getting Tough on Dominant Televisa Network

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The landscape of broadcast TV here is shifting with new players on the horizon.

MEXICO CITY – Mexico is finally tightening the screws on dominant broadcaster Televisa.

In a statement released Friday, Televisa said the Federal Telecommunications Institute (IFT) has ruled that the network is a "preponderant economic agent" in broadcasting. Consequently, the regulator has imposed certain measures and obligations upon Mexico's top network.

Televisa currently controls an estimated 70 percent of the broadcast TV market. Between Televisa and TV Azteca, Mexico's TV duopoly corners about 95 percent of the airwaves here.

To level the playing field, the IFT will tender two national channels, and neither Televisa nor TV Azteca will be allowed to bid for the concessions. Details of the rules and requirements for the public auction bid will be published later this week.

The IFT also is requiring Televisa to share its infrastructure (ie transmission towers) with competitors. Additionally, the network will be required to make available information regarding ad services and fee structures.

What's more, Televisa will be prohibited from acquiring transmission rights on an exclusive basis for certain high-profile events, such as soccer-league playoffs, Mexico's national team soccer matches, FIFA World Cup finals and Olympic Games.

Televisa also operates several pay TV outfits. Under the new regulation, Televisa must offer its over-the-air channels to rivals, such as EchoStar-owned Dish Mexico.

The latest measures imposed on Televisa are the result of an ambitious telecom reform bill that aims to open the nation's highly-concentrated TV and telecom industries to competition.