Telmex to Ally With Dish Mexico in Offering Phone-TV Plan

Telefonos de Mexico SAB, the largest fixed-line phone carrier in the nation, and satellite-TV partner Dish Mexico began selling their first joint service for phone and video today to lure customers from Grupo Televisa SA.

The plan offers 32 channels and a phone line with 100 local calls and 50 national long-distance minutes for 299 pesos ($25) a month, Telmex said today on its website. Televisa’s Empresas Cablevision SAB unit offers 70 channels and an unlimited home-phone plan for 359 pesos.

Telmex has hosted Dish kiosks in its stores and allowed customers to pay for the satellite service on their phone bills since 2008 in a strategy to keep users from switching to cable rivals. The phone company’s lines fell by 1.8 percent last year to 15.6 million as clients switched to packages of phone, Web and TV service offered by Televisa.

Telmex, controlled by billionaire Carlos Slim’s America Movil SAB, is blocked from operating its own TV service because the government says it needs to follow rules governing its connections to the networks of competitors. Mexico City-based Telmex has said it already complies with the rules.

Dish Mexico said in February it plans to almost triple its users to 6 million by 2014. It had 2.2 million subscribers that month, compared with 3.04 million clients for Televisa’s Sky unit, Mexico’s biggest satellite operator, at the end of. About 30 percent of Mexican households have pay-TV service.

Televisa has asked Mexico’s antitrust agency to review Telmex’s relationship with Dish to determine whether the phone carrier gets a financial benefit from the arrangement. Telmex said in February the agreement pertains only to billing and distribution and that, while it would be interested in acquiring a stake in Dish with the government’s permission, it doesn’t own any portion of the company.

Telmex gained 8 centavos to 11.18 pesos at 4 p.m. New York time in Mexico City trading. Mexico City-based Televisa fell 1.68 pesos, or 2.9 percent, to 56.7 pesos after the Wall Street Journal reported the company will buy a 50 percent stake in mobile-phone carrier Grupo Iusacell SA for $1.6 billion.

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