Televisa plays down TV Azteca antitrust fears in wireless JV

Gabriel MIramar-Garcia ©RapidTVNews | 22-02-2012

Mexican broadcasters are continuing to play down antitrust fears over the TV advertising market as No. 1 broadcaster Grupo Televisa looks to start a joint venture with mobile-phone operator Iusacell.
Mexico's Federal Competition Commission in February rejected Televisa's offer to take a $1.6 billion, 50% stake in Iusacell, on the grounds that it could foment anti-competitive behaviour in the television advertising market. That's because Iusacell's other main investor is Ricardo Salinas Pliego, the man behind No. 2 television broadcaster TV Azteca. So effectively, the deal would find Televisa and TV Azteca in the same wireless operator bed. And between them, Televisa and TV Azteca dominate the TV business in that country.
Televisa, appealing the decision, says it is only interested in providing a new wireless alternative to the more expensive options available from the large cellcos in the market. And indeed, Iusacell says it has only a sliver--4%--of the Mexican mobile market, eliminating the worry that with the deal Televisa would dominate the entire media landscape, both wireless and wireline. However, the TV Azteca link doesn't seem to be fading into the background.
The "hypothetical collusion" at issue would be grounds for criminal complaints, Televisa Executive Vice President Alfonso de Angoitia said in a conference call. Therefore, it would not be in any of the stakeholders' ultimate interests.