Rivals of Carlos Slim are protesting to government regulators his delivery of TV programming over the Web in Mexico, Bloomberg reports. Grupo Televisa CEO Emilio Azcarraga complained last month and TV Azteca has filed suit against Slim’s companies as well as complained to the nation’s phone regulator over Web broadcasts such as last month’s Pan American Games. Slim’s America Movil and Telefonos de Mexico are forbidden from using their networks to offer TV service under the terms of their telecommunications license that was acquired in a 1990 privatization sale. Slim has tried unsuccessfully to reverse the ban, especially as Televisa has begun offering phone and Internet service to lure away his customers.
Banning web videos without a broadcast license would also affect companies such as Netflix, which has begun streaming services in Latin America, and Mexican phone company Maxcom, which started an online TV plan in September. Jose Otero, an analyst at Signals Telecom Consulting based in Uruguay, said that “if you’re going to need a broadcasting license to offer video streaming, you’re going to need to block a lot of companies.” America Movil is already the biggest pay-TV provider across all of Latin America, with 12.5 million subscribers, mostly in Brazil, compared with DirecTV’s 10.3 million. And America Movil is moving aggressively toward delivery of pay-per-view and streaming of Hollywood movies.
Telmex, as the America Movil unit is known, began offering an online news service, Uno TV Noticias, three years ago. It has added coverage of Formula One racing where it sponsors driver Sergio Perez, and of events such as the International Cervantino Festival, an arts gathering in Guanajuato, Mexico. TV Azteca began its legal moves after Telmex started online transmissions last month of the Pan American Games, held this year in Guadalajara, Mexico. The broadcaster argues that even though the streaming video is free for all Internet users, Telmex uses its network to transmit the programming and is therefore violating the terms of its license, Nino said. Telmex was an official sponsor of the Games and had online broadcast rights for Mexico.
Competition between Slim’s companies and Mexico’s two broadcasters has intensified this year. Slim pulled his companies’ advertising from the broadcasters and both sides filed antitrust complaints against each other. America Movil has 70% of Mexico’s wireless subscribers, and Telmex has 77% of the nation’s land lines. Televisa and TV Azteca get almost all of the nation’s TV viewers.