The Mexican government's decision to recover spectrum in the high-frequency 2.5-GHz band was an act of "revenge" for media company MVS Comunicaciones' decision to rehire a newscaster, CEO Joaquin Vargas said, adding that the firm will challenge the move in court.
Communications and Transportation Secretary Dionisio Perez Jacome last week announced the government's decision to recover existing concessions in that band, citing underuse of the spectrum and its goal of expanding mobile broadband service by bringing in more participants.
The company hardest hit by the move was MVS, which owns dozens of radio stations and pay TV channels and holds 42 of the 68 concessions in the 2.5-GHz band.
The decision not to renew expiring concessions and recover existing ones can only be the result of "pressure" exerted by Mexico's No. 1 broadcaster Televisa and "the manifest antipathy among some figures in the government toward MVS' management," Vargas said in a press conference Wednesday in Mexico City.
The executive slammed the "biased" behavior of government officials on behalf of Latin America's largest media group, saying their actions serve either to boost the value of Televisa's assets or harm its competitors.
The recovery of the spectrum was an act of "revenge" by the government, which kills "two birds with one stone" by heeding Televisa's request to remove MVS from the market and punish a company that "decided not to yield to the arbitrary demands of those who tried to silence a critical and uncomfortable voice," Vargas said, referring to morning radio news anchor Carmen Aristegui.
Vargas said several government officials had demanded a public apology and Aristegui's dismissal after the newscaster said in a February 2011 broadcast that conservative President Felipe Calderon should address rumors of a drinking problem spread by leftist lawmakers.
The CEO said the communications secretary told him that he had instructions from Calderon not "to arrange any matter involving MVS" and especially in the 2.5-GHz band, until Aristegui offered "a public apology."
MVS initially fired Aristegui in the wake of her remarks on Noticias MVS's flagship morning news show, but later reached an arrangement with the newscaster that returned her to the airwaves.
As part of the deal, the figure of a news ombud was created to ensure the news station's content met certain ethical criteria.
Vargas also said Wednesday that during the uproar over the firing of Aristegui then-Labor Secretary Javier Lozano told him that if he rehired the journalist MVS' 2.5-GHz project would "go to hell."
The CEO said his firm will use all legal avenues to halt this "abuse," adding that if the government goes ahead and signs the expropriation decree a long legal battle will ensue and use of the band will be frozen for no less than five years.
In announcing the move last week, Perez Jacome said technological advances had altered the possibilities of this band and made a comprehensive reordering necessary.
The band was originally used for pay TV and radio, but now it can be utilized to offer 4G services, including high-speed mobile broadband.
The secretary said the government would legally recover the spectrum and respect concession holders' rights, including making compensation payments if necessary.
All interested companies will be eligible to participate in an auction of the recovered spectrum without exclusion or discrimination, Perez Jacome added. EFE