Telecom company starts free service

MEXICO CITY — Dominant Mexican telecom company Telmex has launched a preliminary, free version of an online TV service as it preps to compete with media conglom Televisa for Web auds.

Dubbed Prodigy Media, the free service offers Fox News, the national university’s channel TV UNAM and government-funded, culture-themed Canal 22.

Service will eventually offer other channels, movies, indie productions, special events and musicvideos.

Telmex must wait until mid-2007 before it can begin charging under new regulations in Mexico for “triple play” services of phone, Internet and cable.

Telemex is owned by Mexican telco mogul Carlos Slim. Telemex, a former government monopoly, provides local service to around 90% of Mexicans and spinoff American Movil is Latam’s biggest mobile telephone company.

Televisa launched its own online service, Esmas TV, late last year and is already charging around $12 per month to watch its four channels online.

Televisa has filed suit in the U.S. to enforce its interpretation of its agreement with top U.S. Hispanic broadcaster Univision that would allow Televisa to distrib its content online in the States without splitting revenue with Univision.

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