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HomeAll newsMost read newsBusiness Leaders Biography
Birthday : 01/28/1940
Place of birth : Mexico - Mexico
Biography : Carlos Slim Helú is a businessperson who founded Teléfonos de México SAB de CV and Inversora Bursáti

Mexico's Carlos Slim Advances TV Goals With Rights to Olympics

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03/22/2013 | 03:59pm EDT

--Rights for Latin America, excluding Brazil, to 2014 and 2016 Olympics

--Broadcasters Televisa, Azteca would have to get rights from America Movil

--Telmex has long sought TV license for Mexico

By Anthony Harrup

MEXICO CITY--As Mexico's Congress moves toward giving the government increased powers to rein in the telecommunications muscle of billionaire Carlos Slim, Mr. Slim is accumulating building blocks for a television business that until now has been denied him in his home country.

The latest twist came this week when his telecommunications company America Movil SAB (AMX, AMX.MX) won the exclusive broadcast rights for Latin America, except Brazil, to the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, and the 2016 Olympics to be hosted by Rio de Janeiro.

America Movil's announcement Thursday came as the Mexican lower house of Congress passed a bill that will shake up the country's telecommunications and television industries, including plans for two new digital broadcast networks to compete with leading television provider Grupo Televisa SAB (TV, TLEVISA.MX) and No. 2 broadcaster TV Azteca SAB (AZTECA.MX).

The acquisition of rights to the Olympics is the latest television-focused move by America Movil, better known as Latin America's biggest wireless company with 262 million mobile subscribers. The company provides cable service in Latin America, but has been denied authorization in Mexico given unit Telmex's dominance in the fixed-line market. Some analysts see Telmex as the only local company with the power to challenge Televisa's leading position in television.

The International Olympic Committee said the agreement ensures "there will continue to be free Olympic Games television coverage across Latin America, but also allows viewers the choice of following the action on other media platforms as well." Terms weren't disclosed.

Arturo Elias Ayub, a spokesman for Mr. Slim and the head of strategic alliances at Telmex, said America Movil will resell the rights to broadcasters, paid television providers, Internet channels, sports channels, and even mobile service providers.

"Our commitment is to make sure that the biggest number of people possible can see the Games, which will be the first to be transmitted on multiplatforms," he said.

The telecoms bill, if approved by the Senate as expected, could lead to forced asset sales by America Movil, which has 70% of Mexico's mobile subscribers and close to 80% of the fixed phone lines. But it could also pave the way for the company to enter television under a so-called single concession once competitive conditions in telephony have been established to the satisfaction of a proposed new regulatory body.

"Obviously we're interested in that 'single concession,' because we're competing with others who have concessions to provide all the services and we don't," Mr. Elias Ayub said.

Mr. Slim's companies stopped advertising with Televisa and Azteca in 2011 in disputes over telephone interconnection rates and television advertising rates, and now the broadcasters will need to negotiate with America Movil for Olympics coverage.

"If they are interested, and they approach us, we're open to talk," Mr. Elias Ayub said.

A spokesman for Televisa said the company didn't participate in seeking the rights to the Olympics, and that it is too early to say what the next step will be. An Azteca spokesman had no comment on the Olympics, but said the company is still open to talks on the renewal of advertising by Mr. Slim's companies. Mr. Elias Ayub said Televisa and Azteca "haven't let us advertise."

In January, America Movil agreed to buy the media and advertising division of live entertainment company Corporacion Interamericana de Entretenimiento SAB (CIE.MX), which includes publicity in alternative channels, such as open-air spaces, airports, movie theaters and soccer stadiums. A year earlier it bought Latin American digital entertainment content provider DLA from Claxson Interactive Group Inc. And last summer, America Movil bought a minority stake in first-division soccer teams Club Pachuca and Club Leon.

Televisa, in addition to its four broadcast network channels, has three cable units offering video, phone and Internet, and runs the larger of Mexico's two satellite television services. It also is a 50%-50% partner with the controlling shareholder of Azteca in mobile company Iusacell.

Telmex has a billing and marketing agreement with satellite TV service Dish Mexico. Televisa considers that with Dish, it's already competing directly with Telmex in television.

Write to Anthony Harrup at anthopny.harrup@dowjones.com

Stocks mentioned in the article
ChangeLast1st jan.
AMÉRICA MÓVIL, S.A.B. DE C.V. -1.79% 14.81 End-of-day quote.-1.92%
EURO / BRAZILIAN REAL (EUR/BRL) -1.02% 5.9268 Delayed Quote.32.86%
GRUPO TELEVISA, S.A.B. 1.19% 26.27 End-of-day quote.-40.79%
TV AZTECA, S.A.B. DE C.V. 0.54% 0.373 End-of-day quote.-48.62%
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