Update: Telecoms reform passes in house of representatives

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After many hours of debate, the house of representatives approved the telecommunications reform bill presented by President Peña Nieto in the wee hours this morning – with 12 modifications. The bill passed with 410 votes in favor, 50 against and 8 abstentions and it will now go to the Senate for review. The approved version would open Mexican telecommunications and satellite services up to 100% foreign investment and broadcasting up to 49%, would allow for the creation of two new television network concessions and a new Federal Telecommunications Institute. The law also lists criteria to be used to determine whether a particular company has a market monopoly and these cases will be brought to the aforementioned institute.

Ricardo Monreal, a congressman from the Partido de Trabajo (Labor Party), which opposed the bill, expressed concern that the reform would not establish a “transparent and pluralistic concessions system” and reminded the legislators that “those who are now championing the bill were the same who in the past categorically rejected certain initiatives presented by the legislative opposition, opinion leaders, social groups and movements like YoSoy132 who advocated for this change.”

The reform is certainly ambitious in its scope. “According to the bill, telecommunications services are considered public services of general interest, thus the Mexican state shall ensure they are provided under conditions of fair competition, quality of service, plurality, universal coverage, interconnection, technological convergence, fair access and continuity,” was the summary in an article published in The National Law Review. The President tweeted: “The congressional decision is a decisive step towards broader coverage, better prices and better quality in service and content.”

Better quality? Can it get any better? Check out these memorable scenes from a Televisa soap and then decide.

Sources:

Proceso, Aprueban diputados en lo general la ley de telecomunicaciones (Mar 21)

Animal Político, ¿Cuál fue la postura de PRI-PAN-PRD sobre telecomunicaciones? (Mar 22)

The National Law Review, Constitutional Reform Addressing Broadcasting and Telecommunications in Mexico (Mar 21)