Mexico's "game-changing" telecom reform due in days: party leader

Wed Mar 6, 2013 3:33pm EST
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By Elinor Comlay and Dave Graham

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico's phone and television markets, long dominated by Carlos Slim and his rivals, are facing a game-changing shakeup that could be announced in days, according to one of the political leaders tasked with drafting the reform.

"This (reform) changes the whole board game," Gustavo Madero, chairman of the conservative opposition National Action Party (PAN), told Reuters in an interview.

The leaders of President Enrique Pena Nieto's Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and Mexico's two main opposition parties are currently preparing the telecoms reform, which should be brought to Congress in days, not weeks, Madero said.

Slim, the world's richest man, controls about 70 percent of Mexico's cell phone market and about 80 percent of the fixed lines through his phone giant America Movil (AMXL.MX: Quote) (AMX.N: Quote).

Televisa, controlled by media tycoon Emilio Azcarraga, has about 60 percent of the broadcasting market, while Ricardo Salinas' TV Azteca AZTECACPO.MX has most of the rest.

"There's no other country that I know in the world - perhaps the communist countries - where so few hands have so much control over the broadcasting media," said Madero.

Pena Nieto took office on December 1, pledging to shake up competition in Mexico, particularly the telecommunications industry and the state-run oil monopoly, Pemex.

Shortly afterwards he unveiled a pact in which the leaders of the PRI and the main opposition parties pledged to work together on a broad program of economic reforms.   Continued...

Mexican businessman Carlos Slim listens during a news conference after the inauguration of a new research facility at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center, or CIMMYT, in Texcoco outside Mexico City February 13, 2013. REUTERS/Henry Romero