MEXICO CITY — Mexico’s supreme court has ruled in TV Azteca’s favor against charges it illegally usurped control of a Mexico City station from its tax-fugitive owner.
Justices on Feb. 7 unanimously overruled an injunction filed by Televisora del Valle de Mexico (TVM), which is owned by Javier Moreno Valle, the flamboyant founder of the station formerly known as Canal 40.
The ruling may bring to an end the long-running power struggle between Moreno Valle and Ricardo Salinas, the retail and cell phone mogul who owns Mexico’s No. 2 web TV Azteca, over control of the weblet.
In question was a late 2005 shareholders meeting where TV Azteca and a minority shareholder in Canal 40 had taken control of the web.
Lawyers for Moreno Valle had sought to declare the meeting unconstitutional.
At the time of the shareholders meeting, Canal 40 was off-air, bankrupt and in the midst of a long-running strike. Moreno Valle was then in Houston, on the lam from charges of tax fraud.
Following the shareholders meeting, TV Azteca renamed Canal 40 as Proyecto 40 and put the station back on air.
Lawyer Javier Quijano vowed Wednesday that TVM would continue to pursue another suit to challenge TV Azteca’s takeover. But TV Azteca trumpeted the legal win as a definitive end to the dispute in a filing to the Mexican stock market.
The well-connected Moreno Valle technically still owns 95% of Canal 40, but he reportedly has used his shares as collateral with wealthy friends to extract yet-unpaid loans.
Canal 40, a VHF station carried on cable that programs mostly news and docus for Mexico City’s elite, was at the heart of another struggle between TV Azteca and NBC Universal. The owners of U.S. Hispanic net Telemundo sought to use Canal 40 as an outlet for its Spanish-language content into the Mexican market.
GE Mexico had attempted to gain control of Canal 40 during the workers strike. However, a government probe of a GE loan to Moreno Valle botched the multinational’s plans and allowed TV Azteca the time to engineer its takeover.