Mexico regulator unlikely to meet deadline for TV auction terms

MEXICO CITY Thu Nov 22, 2012 6:14pm GMT

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MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico's telecommunications watchdog is unlikely to meet a November 30 deadline to publish the terms for the long-awaited auction of frequencies that could lead to the creation of up to two new TV networks, chief regulator Mony de Swaan said on Thursday.

"It is remote," de Swaan told reporters at a telecoms event, when asked about the possibility of the terms being published next week.

That delay would mean an eventual auction would take place only after President-elect Enrique Pena Nieto takes over as head of state on December 1.

It also puts on hold indefinitely a process that was expected to challenge the lead of broadcasters Televisa and TV Azteca in the Mexican broadcast television market.

Telecom regulator Cofetel said in June it was unlocking 306 digital frequencies across the country. Depending on the way the auction was designed, it could have potentially allowed for the creation of two new networks.

Televisa and TV Azteca joined forces last year to challenge tycoon Carlos Slim, the world's richest man, in the Mexican phone market.

Televisa, the world's biggest producer of Spanish-language content, bought half of TV Azteca's sister company, cellphone firm Iusacell, for $1.6 billion earlier this year.

Slim, who leads the fixed-line, Internet and cellphone markets in Mexico, has been denied access into television because of competition concerns.

The billionaire is, however, the main provider of Latin American pay television services outside Mexico, with 16 million satellite or cable subscribers across the region.

(Reporting by Cyntia Barrera; Editing by Dale Hudson)