Pay platform pulls Televisa after raid

No evidence of copyright breach found

MEXICO CITY — A row is brewing over pay TV operator MVS’ retransmission of Televisa channels in Mexico.

MVS, which beams out the content on its discount service MasTV, claims it has paid 1.2 million pesos ($122,000) for the rights and has a contract signed by Televisa exec Ariana Azcarraga, sister of conglom CEO and prexy Emilio Azcarraga.

However, Televisa maintains it is a letter of intent only and lodged a complaint with legal authorities.

Up to 30 agents sent by the Mexican attorney general’s office raided MVS’s studios at 3 a.m. Sept. 4 to discover how MasTV was receiving and rebroadcasting the four terrestrial networks and three pay TV music channels.

They found no evidence of a breach of copyright, but the attorney general’s office will continue to monitor the situation. Shortly before the raid, MasTV pulled the signals, which remain off its air.

MasTV was launched in August by MVS Comunicaciones, privately owned by the Guajardo Vargas family. MVS produces several pay TV channels as well as running an established premium multipoint service.

MasTV charges $7.65 a month for 15 pay TV and seven terrestrial stations including Televisa channels — a fraction of the average charge for pay TV in Mexico.

Cut-price cable

MVS hopes to attract 5 million subscribers to MasTV, targeting lower-income households that are priced out of cable and satcasting systems Sky and DirecTV. It did not disclose the current number of subscribers.

Reception of terrestrial stations is often poor in Mexico, meaning that most pay TV outfits include them in their packages. However, Televisa has refused to allow MVS to carry its broadcast or feevee channels.

In Mexico City, MVS competes with Televisa-controlled cabler Cablevision. Televisa, majority owner of Sky Mexico, also refuses to let DirecTV carry its open-air networks.

“We warned them this would happen, but they didn’t listen to us and took our signals without a contract,” says one Televisa exec.

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