Mexico accelerates digital TV switchover

Goal is to generate more competition in market

Mexico’s President Felipe Calderon issued a decree Thursday that will accelerate the nation’s terrestrial analog-to-digital switchover by six years to 2015.

The order, which goes into effect next year, is aimed at opening competition in a field dominated by Televisa and TV Azteca, which together account for more than 95% of market share.

Announcement followed Wednesday’s annual report to Congress, Mexico’s equivalent of the State of the Union Address, where the president called for a more aggressive modernization of telecom standards.

The nation’s original digitalization plan called for an “analog blackout” on Dec. 31, 2021.

The decree states that digital converter boxes will be imported and sold at a “fair” price to aid the switchover.

Calderon also called for opening new bandwidth in the 700 MHz band, a coveted range that can penetrate buildings and structures.

Calderon also detailed in his annual report the growth of pubcaster Canal 11, which opened in eight more markets in July, more than doubling the number of possible viewers to around 43 million of the nation’s 111 million residents.

The government has touted that channel as an alternative to the media duopoly, and a number of shingles have begun to develop original programming for the mini-web, including Canana Films, the indie house founded by thesps Diego Luna and Gael Garcia-Bernal.