DISH wins victory over Televisa, Azteca in must-offer broadcast regulation

Gabriel Miramar-Garcia | 24-02-2014

Mexico is set to enact a must-carry regulation that significantly differs from the US, as the country's Federal Telecommunications Institute telecom regulator has ruled that broadcasters must offer their feeds to pay-TV operators like DISH for free.

DISH, which competes with Televisa's Sky satellite service in Mexico, has been carrying signals from Televisa and TV Azteca SAB since September. Broadcasters have challenged the company, saying that it should pay retransmission fees. But the IFT concluded last week that this is not the case.

Televisa is studying the impact of a regulatory decision, officials told Bloomberg, though the true ramifications won't be known until the full text of the ruling is made available in the coming weeks.

However, the world's biggest broadcaster did say that the must-offer rule will cost it $105 million in retransmission sales this year.

The Mexican TV market is highly consolidated, with Televisa owning Channel 2 and Channel 5, and Azteca operating Channel 7 and Channel 13. Together they control 96% of the country's audience — a fact that they have used as leverage with rival pay-TV providers. The regulatory ruling levels the playing field on the pay-TV front and could open the door for more competition.