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Mexican cable firms want Slim's TV push rejected

January 22, 2008|From Bloomberg News

Mexican cable companies Monday urged President Felipe Calderon to curb the market power of Carlos Slim's telephone companies, saying they overcharge consumers and hurt the country's competitiveness.

The National Chamber of the Cable Telecommunications Industry took out full-page ads in Mexico's largest daily newspapers, Reforma and El Universal, to demand special regulation for Slim's Telefonos de Mexico and America Movil's Telcel unit.

The cable group asked the government to reject a request by Telefonos de Mexico, known as Telmex, to sell television service because that would extend its market dominance.

Calderon said in November that promoting competition in telecommunications and banking was a priority under his plan to spur economic growth and create jobs.

"Telmex blocks the participation of competitors through anti-competitive practice," the cable companies' ad said. The group also said Telcel had the highest market share of any mobile phone company in the 30 countries that make up the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

The cable companies are the ones trying to avoid competition, said Arturo Elias Ayub, spokesman for Mexico City-based Telmex.

"We need to break the regional monopolies that these cable operators have and allow consumers to choose," he said.

Telmex expects to get permission to sell television service by the end of March; possibly as soon as this month, Elias Ayub said.

The company controls about 90% of Mexico's phone lines, 17 years after Slim bought the former national monopoly from the government. America Movil, which was spun off in 2001, has about 75% of the country's cellphone market.

Antitrust regulators started an investigation of the mobile market in November and plan a separate probe into the fixed-line industry this year. Telmex has repeatedly said it isn't a dominant carrier.

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