Mexico to Push Ahead on Broadcast-TV Rules After Legal Decision

Feb 19, 2014 1:00 am ET

Feb. 18 (Bloomberg) -- Mexico’s telecommunications regulator said a Supreme Court ruling allows it to forge ahead with rules to require broadcasters to provide their channels to cable and satellite companies.

The Federal Telecommunications Institute will hold an extraordinary session in the coming days to agree on the rules, according to a statement yesterday. This week, Supreme Court Justice Olga Sanchez suspended a lower court’s ruling that the agency doesn’t have the appropriate regulatory authority.

At stake is the revenue Grupo Televisa SAB and TV Azteca SAB, Mexico’s two biggest broadcasters, receive from cable and satellite companies for the use of their over-the-air networks. Under a law passed last year, the companies have to let the pay- TV carriers use broadcast networks for free instead of charging them for the right to carry that programming.

A Televisa press official declined to comment. TV Azteca’s press office didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

The regulatory agency, known as IFT, had postponed discussion of the rules last week because of the order from the lower court, which is hearing a 2011 lawsuit filed by Televisa. President Enrique Pena Nieto vowed to challenge the judge’s order and defend the IFT’s authority by bringing the case to the Supreme Court.

Pena Nieto and Mexican lawmakers have introduced a series of laws to create greater competition, strengthening antitrust regulators and opening the oil industry to outside investment. This month, the lower house of Congress approved a bill to increase railroad competition.

‘Forceful’ Answer

The Supreme Court’s decision is a “forceful” answer in defense of the recent telecommunications law, Dish Mexico, the nation’s second-largest satellite-TV company, said in an e- mailed statement yesterday.

Dish and phone carrier Axtel SAB have retransmitted signals from Televisa and TV Azteca since September for no extra charge. Previously, they had to pay the networks for their signals as part of a bundle of channels.

Televisa slid 1.4 percent to 75.67 pesos yesterday in Mexico City, while Azteca climbed less than 1 percent to 8.47 pesos.

--Editors: Crayton Harrison, John Lear