Mexico to bring analogue switch-off forward?

Iñaki Ferreras ©RapidTVNews | 21-11-2011

Mexico’s debate over digital TV is becoming increasingly complicated, with the threat of the president’s intention to bring forward the analogue switch-off to 2015 being overruled by the Supreme Court, and COFETEL opening an online consultation.
Following the declaration by Mexican president Felipe Calderón that the national analogue blackout will be set for 2015, the National Supreme Justice Court (SCJN) has stated that the issue doesn’t fall under the Executive jurisdiction and that the Federal Telecommunications Committee (COFETEL) should be the one handling the country’s TV cross-over to digital.
But the SCJN hasn’t been able to come up with the necessary votes to overrule the president’s decree, and so the transition is indeed set for 2015 instead of 2021. The Executive will set into motion everything that is stated in the decree, including the creation of a treadway commission with the help of COFETEL and the Federal Competition Committee (COFECO) to speed up the process.
According to the Secretary of Communication and Transport (STC), the new date for the transition means both savings for companies and benefits for the population. Yet the National Radio and TV Industry Chamber (CIRT) plans to ask for more time before imposing the blackout,
explaining that most of the networks won’t be technically ready to work with digital TV by 2015.

The TV networks Televisa and TV Azteca say that Mexico isn’t yet prepared for the switchover, and are therefore against the new date. The area that’s currently better suited for digital TV in Mexico is the region near the US border, and it will be necessary to help less privileged areas purchase new cable boxes.
On its side, COFETEL is conducting an online consultation this week ‑ which some Mexican media outlets are calling ‘a strange means of consultation’ ‑ asking those interested in the matter to voice their opinions on whether starting a tender for two new broadcast TV networks is convenient. The association intends to gather arguments both for and against the decision through a 14-point questionnaire and a document containing information about the Mexican market.
The new governmental tender could bring with it two new national in-the-clear TV networks ‑ one thing the traditional networks don’t seem very happy with.