Mexico's government has secured a court ruling that prevents fixed-line giant Telmex from entering the cable TV market.
"This sentence is firm and not subject to appeal," the Communications and Transportation Secretariat's head of legal affairs, Gerardo Sanchez Henkel, told Efe.
He said the court denied Telmex's request for an injunction against the secretariat's May 26, 2011, decision to deny the company the license on grounds it was providing substandard interconnection service to competitors in violation of Mexico's 2006 Convergence Agreement.
Sanchez recalled that the Supreme Court was asked Wednesday to hear another case related to Telmex's bid for access to the pay TV market.
The legal dispute dates back to December 2009, when Telmex - controlled by Mexican multi-billionaire Carlos Slim - sued to enter the TV market after telecoms regulator Cofetel failed to respond in time to its a request for a license.
Telmex said then that it had complied with its obligations under the 2006 Convergence Agreement, which spells out the conditions telecom firms must meet to offer triple play (television, Internet and telephone) service, including "non-discriminatory" interconnection rates and service.
Telmex's attorneys seized on Cofetel's failure to meet the deadline, arguing that the lack of a response amounted to tacit approval of the cable TV license request.
In May 2011, the SCT refused to change Telmex's concession and that decision was upheld by the court's ruling Thursday.
Sanchez said this latest ruling obviates the need for the Supreme Court to hear the matter, although he added that the high-court justices "have the last word" and could choose to hand down a decision.
He said the next step for Telmex is to reapply to have its concession changed and provide proof that it has complied with the Convergence Agreement.
"Telmex could file a new application tomorrow," Sanchez said.
The secretariat's legal director said Mexico needs a broader offering of television content and telecommunications services, but under conditions of equality and fair competition.
He also stressed the need for promulgation of the Interconnection Framework Agreement, a mechanism that is designed to ensure market operators' compliance with interconnection requirements and which has been submitted for public review.
Telmex has challenged that agreement on the grounds it would raise its costs, while authorities have asked the company to present evidence that such increases would occur.
A unit of Mexico City-based regional wireless giant America Movil, Telmex maintains it has the infrastructure to offer pay TV and that approval of its bid would boost competition and give consumers more triple play and quadruple play (also including cellphone service) options. EFE