Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim wants to enter TV sector

I˝aki Ferreras ęRapidTVNews | 19-05-2012

Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim has spent years avoiding obstacles and opponents in search of the gold piece that is missing from his telecommunications empire in Latin America: a TV licence in Mexico.
The proven ability of the richest man in the world to do business in Mexico, where his corporation dominates the telecommunications market, leads many to believe that it is inevitable that he will navigate around the legal restrictions that could prevent him from achieving his goal. The question no one dares to answer is how much more the process may be delayed.

"I'm sure he will receive [the licence]," said Stanley Martinez, senior telecoms analyst at Legal & General Investment Management America in Chicago (LGIMA), which manages a telecoms portfolio in Mexico. But he added that "it is difficult to say whether we are closer."

While Slim moves along a path of wars and truces with regulators, pay-TV operators gradually invade his territory, offering attractive integrated packages of services.

The pay-TV market in Latin America has 14 million customers.

The story of this "business impossible" dates back to the 1990s, when Slim - then a businessman and lesser-known financial trader - bought telephony firm Telmex. However, a condition attached to this was that he could not offer TV, a rule that sought to prevent future problems of competition.

Over two decades later, in a market where technological advances can offer more services through a single connection, some experts believe that this restriction no longer makes sense and only hurts Telmex.

But in competition issues it is more common to see Slim in the dock. His companies have about 80% of fixed lines and 70% of mobile in Mexico, and has so many other businesses in Mexico that it is said to be hard to spend a day without putting money in his pockets.
Gerardo Soria, a former telecommunications regulator with COFETEL and president of the Law Institute of Telecommunications (IDET), said: "It is very difficult that you can modify the concession title," referring to Telmex finally offering a TV service.
The lawyer argued that the Federal Telecommunications Act of 1995 says that the concessions granted prior to approval, such as Telmex, "will be respected under the terms and conditions set forth in the respective titles."

But Telmex has not thrown in the towel. In its first quarter financial report the company complained about the delay in resolving the case and said that "this effect is delaying the development of information society in the country."

America Mˇvil, which controls Telmex, which recently reached an agreement with regulators to lower the local interconnection rates in exchange for avoiding a multi-million dollar fine, is expected to eventually be allowed to enter the TV market.

While waiting at home in Latin America, the group moves on and on. America Mˇvil added 600,000 TV subscribers in the first quarter and the share of business services revenue of the firm nearly quadrupled in a year.

Read more: Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim wants to enter TV sector | News | Rapid TV News