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Mexico’s new president calls for more nets

In inaugural address, Enrique Pena Nieto advocates for increased competition

MEXICO CITY

In his inaugural address Saturday, Enrique Pena Nieto, Mexico’s newly anointed president, made an explicit call for bolstering media competition, calling for the establishment of two new over-the-air congloms in Mexico — and soon.

“Generating greater economic competition is fundamental, particularly in the telecommunications sector,” said Pena Nieto in Mexico before heads of state and U.S. Vice President Joe Biden at the Mexico City ceremony Saturday. “The government of this republic will solicit bids for two new television networks in the coming months.”

Going into the ceremony, Pena Nieto had given little indication as to where he stood on this issue and the June decision of federal telco regulator Cofetel to move forward on auction rules for the sale of bandwidth for two new terrestrial operators.

Political wrangling and legal pressure from existing interests pushed the expected opening date for bids from August, as originally proposed, into complete uncertainty.

As the administration of outgoing president Felipe Calderon began to close shop this November, Cofetel chief Mony de Swaan began to admit that chances of passing auction rules by Nov. 30 were remote, calling into question the future of the initiative.

Cameras panning across the audience Saturday revealed a seated Televisa prexy Emilio Jean Azcarraga, who actually hailed the possibility of a third channel after the June decision.

That said, two new nationwide nets will undoubtedly apply significant pressure on the nation’s top two broadcasters Televisa and TV Azteca, which together control some 95% of the over-the-air market share in Mexico.

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