Slim Open to Investment in Mexican Broadcast Television Amid Disputes

Billionaire Carlos Slim is considering whether to enter the broadcast television business in Mexico amid a series of public disputes with Grupo Televisa SA (TLEVICPO) and TV Azteca SAB.

“We’ve always said that we’re not interested in broadcast television. Today we’re not closed to that option,” said Arturo Elias, a spokesman for Slim. For the past six years, Slim has been “fighting” to offer pay television services, and that’s still a priority, Elias told reporters today in Mexico City.

“After seeing what the broadcasters are doing, today, broadcast television is a possibility,” he said.

Televisa, the largest Mexican broadcaster controlled by billionaire Emilio Azcarraga, and Ricardo Salinas’ TV Azteca have each exchanged antitrust complaints with Telefonos de Mexico SAB, the fixed-line phone carrier controlled by Slim. Both TV broadcasters and Telefonos accused each other of “monopolistic practices” and high prices.

Azcarraga and Salinas are running TV ads on their networks and pay TV services accusing Slim’s Telmex and America Movil SAB of maintaining high prices. Televisa and TV Azteca want to capture telecommunications market share from Slim’s companies, which are Mexico’s largest Internet, wireless and fixed-line providers.

Slim’s companies have stopped advertising on TV Azteca and Televisa following disputes over prices and an attempt by TV Azteca to link an advertising deal to lower interconnection rates.

Elias said that Slim is not in talks to acquire broadcast TV assets. The company will not move in that direction until the federal government offers a new national network license, he said.

-- With assistance from Jonathan Roeder in Mexico City and Crayton Harrison in New York. Editors: Niamh Ring, Donna Alvarado

To contact the reporter on this story: Carlos Manuel Rodriguez in Mexico City at carlosmr@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Peter Elstrom in New York at pelstrom@bloomberg.net.

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