Mexico media tycoon clash heats up, Slim attacked for Dish deal

Fri Feb 21, 2014 3:58pm EST
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By Michael O'Boyle and Elinor Comlay

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexican tycoon Carlos Slim is facing renewed accusations from rivals that he has skirted the law in a tie-up with pay-television provider Dish Mexico as a new telecommunications regulator prepares to issue a series of landmark antitrust rulings.

Mexico's media titans have been slinging mud at one another for years, but the battle heated up when television companies started offering digital phone and Internet services, encroaching on Slim's territory while the terms of his government concession prevent him from offering TV.

Slim dominates Mexico's phone and Internet markets through America Movil (AMXL.MX: Quote) while Emilio Azcarraga's Televisa (TLVACPO.MX: Quote) is the country's biggest broadcaster. Televisa also offers pay TV and Internet and phone services.

Televisa's satellite TV business Sky has been facing tough competition from Dish Mexico, which offers its most basic package at less than half the price of a similar Sky package.

Televisa and other rivals have complained for years that the partnership between America Movil's home-phone unit Telmex and satellite television firm Dish Mexico is improper.

This week, local media published a memo that allegedly details a deal for Telmex to buy a stake in Dish, and both of Mexico's top broadcasters, Televisa and TV Azteca (AZTECACPO.MX: Quote), jumped on the news to demand the regulator renew a 2011 investigation.

Reuters could not immediately confirm the authenticity of the documents.

Telmex, which is now a unit of Slim's America Movil, has notified investors of the option to buy a stake in Dish since 2009, according to regulatory filings.   Continued...

Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim speaks during the presentation of a digital platform, which was created in partnership with the Carlos Slim Foundation and online course platform Coursera, inside Soumaya museum in Mexico City January 29, 2014. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido