Mexico's president to ask Supreme Court to rule in TV battle

Reuters News
Posted: Feb 13, 2014 9:01 PM

By Elinor Comlay

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto will ask the Supreme Court to rule on the powers of the new telecommunications regulator, as broadcasters and pay television providers battle over free-to-air stations.

Mexico's government last year passed a constitutional reform that established the regulator, the Federal Institute for Telecommunications (IFT), and new rules aimed at increasing competition in Mexico's television and phone markets.

This week, one of Mexico's two main broadcasters, Grupo Televisa, obtained a court ruling that said the IFT did not have the power to decide on one of the new rules known as 'must offer, must carry', which obliges pay television services to offer free-to-air channels.

The president will request the Supreme Court "decide and confirm the full powers" of the IFT, spokesman Eduardo Sanchez said on Thursday.

"So-called must carry and must offer ... is an essential part of the constitutional reform," said Sanchez.

In a statement released after Sanchez's remarks, Televisa said it had been defending property rights related to its television content since 2011, a couple years before the constitutional reform.

Televisa, the world's largest producer of Spanish-language television content, added that it would respect the legal process.

Satellite company Dish Mexico said last week the regulator should declare broadcaster Grupo Televisa a dominant company, to increase competition.

Dish Mexico, a joint venture of Echostar Corp and local media company MVS, is already broadcasting free-to-air television channels from Televisa and TV Azteca, Mexico's second-biggest broadcaster.

(Reporting by Elinor Comlay and David Alire Garcia; Editing by David Gregorio and Stephen Coates)