MEXICO CITY — Mexico’s Supreme Court has made the first move in what could end up being a regulatory backlash against dominant broadcasters Televisa and its smaller rival TV Azteca.
Last week, the high court struck down a new media law, saying the reform gave unfair advantages to Mexico’s duopoly and put up barriers to new competition entering the market.
The reform had been dubbed “Ley Televisa” by its critics, because, they said, it was drafted by Televisa lawyers to ensure the company’s dominant position in Mexico, where it commands 70% of the broadcast aud through its four national channels. Televisa and TV Azteca hold 95% of the nation’s broadcast licenses.
The new law had been approved in early 2006 as NBC Universal-owned Telemundo and other groups of Mexican businessman were gunning to get on air in Mexico and compete against Televisa and TV Azteca.
The Supreme Court decision could eventually lead to new rules that could make it easier for new competitors to set up in Mexico.
But that is likely to take some time, even though senators vowed to push through a new proposal this fall. For one thing, budget legislation will also be going through at that time, and that will take priority.
Next, the telcom regulatory agency (Cofetel) will need to publish an agenda for the public auction of new licenses, where its spells out the number and geographical location of available licenses, which could take up to year.
Following that, the public auction process also easily could take a year, so Telemundo, or any other group, may be lucky to be on air in Mexico by 2010.
All this also depends on the will of Mexican pols to back a U.S. net’s entry to Mexico. Moreover, Cofetel is stacked with officials named by the previous administration who are seen as being in the pocket of Televisa. The Supreme Court decision could lead to a shakeup of Cofetel, but until then, Mexico is likely to remain tuned to the same station.