B'caster, partner try to break into Mexican market

U.S. Hispanic broadcaster Telemundo and its Mexican partner Grupo Xtra have asked Mexican authorities to issue them a TV broadcast license, as Telemundo continues its attempt to break into the tightly controlled market.

Companies’ joint venture, Palmas 26, lodged the request for analog and digital broadcast frequencies with the Communication and Transportation Ministry and regulator Cofetel on Thursday.

Telemundo, a unit of GE-owned NBC Universal, and Grupo Xtra formed Palmas 26 in April to launch a station in Mexico, which is dominated by giant Televisa and TV Azteca.

Telemundo has been trying to enter the market for years. Its last attempt was thwarted in 2005, when the government barred it from making a deal with the then-bankrupt Canal 40.

In April, Mexico’s Congress approved broadcast law reforms that critics say benefit the Televisa/TV Azteca duopoly and will not increase competition in the transition from analog to digital broadcasts.

The reforms allow Televisa and TV Azteca to offer digital channels without paying extra for the service, while new companies must participate in public auctions.

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