Satellite TV firm slams Mexican broadcasters’ unfair practices

By | April 14, 2011

Satellite TV provider Dish Mexico has called on authorities to halt “uncompetitive” practices by TV Azteca and Televisa, the duopoly that controls the broadcast television industry in Mexico, saying they are refusing to air the company’s advertising.

“TV Azteca has joined the ban Televisa imposed on our advertising campaign, refusing to air our commercials and broadcasting Televisa’s campaign to discredit and denigrate our service,” Dish Mexico, owned by U.S.-based EchoStar Corporation and Mexican media conglomerate MVS Comunicaciones, said in a statement.

The company questioned whether the ban is related to the fact that “one of Dish Mexico’s shareholders announced a broadband project that will compete with mobile operator Iusacell.”

MVS recently announced an alliance with Mexican telecommunications company Alestra, U.S. wireless Internet service provider Clearwire Corporation and semiconductor chip manufacturer Intel Corporation to offer mobile broadband service in Mexico.

That initiative represents direct competition for companies such as Iusacell, a mobile phone company jointly controlled by Ricardo Salinas Pliego – who also owns TV Azteca – and Televisa, which recently acquired a 50 percent stake in Iusacell for $1.6 billion.

Dish Mexico said the advertising snub may also be due to its business alliance with Telmex, which is Mexico’s largest fixed-line telephone company and is controlled by Mexican telecom magnate Carlos Slim.

Two of Slim’s companies – Telmex and Mexico’s leading mobile operator, America Movil unit Telcel – have been waging a battle in the media with a group of telephone and cable TV providers led by Televisa and Salinas Pliego’s Grupo Salinas.

Each side accuses the other of monopolistic practices and of manipulating prices in their respective markets to restrict competition.

Each also has filed separate complaints against the other before the Federal Competition Commission, or CFC, and full-page attack ads by either Slim’s companies or the broadcasting giants have been an almost daily occurrence over the past two months.

As part of the media-telecom dispute, Slim’s firms have stopped advertising on Televisa and TV Azteca due to alleged exorbitant rates.

Among the other issues at stake are demands by Iusacell and other phone companies for lower rates to connect to Slim’s vast telecom network and Telmex’s bid to enter the pay TV market in Mexico.

Mexico’s lowest-cost satellite TV provider, Dish Mexico competes directly with Sky Mexico, a satellite TV firm owned by Televisa, although it offers fewer channels.

The CFC says that after Dish Mexico entered the Mexican market in April 2009 the number of satellite TV subscribers climbed from 1.6 million to 4.3 million in December 2010.

The subscriber total that month was 79 percent higher year-on-year than in December 2009.

Televisa has a 70 percent share of the Mexican broadcast television market and TV Azteca has a 30 percent share, the CFC says.


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