Mexico’s Senate has given its approval to legislation needed to implement wide-ranging reforms in the telecommunications markets, the Financial Times reports. With the debate regarding the proposed bill having lasted for some 17 hours, the upper house eventually voted 85 to 12 in favour. As a result, the bill will now pass back to the lower house, the Chamber of Deputies, where it is expected to be approved in the early part of this week.
The secondary legislation underpinning the Mexican government’s efforts to boost competition in the country’s telecoms sectors was put before Congress in late-March 2014. While it was initially expected to be approved fairly swiftly, debate regarding the bill intensified, centred on whether or not the proposals would be tough enough on those companies considered dominant. Critics had suggested that some lawmakers were seeking to make dominance dependent on a firm’s market share in the whole of the telecoms or broadcasting sector rather than particular services. Indeed, Reuters cites Senator Javier Corral, from the conservative National Action Party (PAN), as having argued that the law would allow Televisa to continue to gain market share in the pay-TV market without facing regulation, saying: ‘The only real dilemma is if Televisa will be subjected, once and for all, to competition.’
Earlier this month CommsUpdate reported that the Senate has proposed introducing tougher fines against telecoms companies and broadcasters in a new draft of legislation that aims to curb the power of telecoms tycoon Carlos Slim and broadcaster Televisa. As per the revised legislation the sector’s regulator – the Instituto Federal de Telecomunicaciones (Ifetel) – would be allowed to impose fines of up to 10% of a company’s income, rising to 20% if violations are repeated. Ifetel has been granted sweeping powers to police the sector, including the ability to break up dominant players. The highest fines are likely to be imposed on companies that disrupt services without justification – if the operator is the sole provider in the affected area.