A group of 47 Mexican senators have filed suit before the Supreme Court arguing that a new media law is unconstitutional because it hands over digital frequencies to TV titan Televisa for free — virtually assuring its lock on the market continues.
It’s a last-ditch attempt to overturn the legislation that critics say was drafted by Televisa lawyers and rammed through Congress in a lobbying campaign more akin to extortion than Washington-style backroom dealing.
If the high court accepts the suit, which sources say is likely, it will rule on whether the bill, signed into law in April by President Vicente Fox, violates constitutional provisions against monopolies. The court has traditionally taken up to a year to resolve similar suits.
The law hands over digital spectrum to Televisa and No. 2 net TV Azteca for free while newcomers must bid for licenses in a public auction. Previously, licenses were granted according to the president’s whim.
Mexico’s telco regulatory commission and its anti-trust commission both opposed the new law. Even the U.N. high commissioner spoke out against what the press dubbed the “Televisa Law.”
Critics believe that both political parties and even the president were unwilling to cross Televisa, whose newscasts inform a majority of Mexican voters, in the run-up to the July 2 presidential elections.
On Thursday, the lawmakers marched from the Senate to the Supreme Court to drop off their 250-page suit.