Mexico's Congress should undertake a "comprehensive reform" of telecommunications and broadcasting regulation to exclude political considerations from the process, the Mexican Association for the Right to Information, or Amedi, said.

"It's time that telecommunications work for everyone and not just as a business resource or political tool for a few," Amedi said in a statement.

The group spoke out after the CEO of media conglomerate MVS Comunicaciones accused the Mexican government of threatening the company with the loss of spectrum unless it fired a popular radio news anchor who is a harsh critic of President Felipe Calderon's administration.

On Wednesday, MVS boss Joaquin Vargas presented what he said was evidence of the coercion, revealing e-mail exchanges and communications with federal government spokeswoman Alejandra Sota and former Labor Secretary Javier Lozano.

He showed an ostensible communication from Sota that spells out the content of an apology letter Aristegui would need to sign after insisting on air in February 2011 that Calderon answer unsubstantiated rumors of a drinking problem.

MVS fired Aristegui for refusing to sign the apology, but reinstated her days later after a public outcry.

"With respect to the statements by the CEO of MVS, we deny that the federal government tried to limit the journalist's freedom of expression," Sota said this week.

"The accusations leveled by (Vargas) are baseless and are aimed at contaminating a technical telecommunications decision related to the 2.5 (GHz) band," the spokeswoman said.

Communications and Transportation Secretary Dionisio Perez Jacome on Aug. 8 announced the government's decision to recover existing concessions in that band, citing underuse of the spectrum and its goal of expanding fourth-generation mobile broadband service by bringing in more participants.

The company hardest hit by the move was MVS, the owner of dozens of radio stations and pay TV channels and holder of 42 of the 68 concessions in the 2.5 GHz band.

Vargas slammed the decision as an act of revenge for MVS's decision to rehire Aristegui and vowed to mount a court challenge.

But Sota said Wednesday the issue has nothing to do with freedom of expression but "solely and exclusively with the fact MVS did not want to pay Mexicans what the band costs: 27 billion pesos ($2.06 billion)."

MVS offered to pay no more than 11.16 billion pesos (some $859 million) to hold on to its spectrum in that band, prompting the government's decision to begin the process of recovering it on grounds of underutilization.

Unpersuaded by the government's explanations, Amedi said the demand that Aristegui as a condition for MVS to retain its frequencies was a "form of extortion."

Regarding the negotiations with MVS, Amedi said the government did not establish clear parameters for determining the value of the spectrum.

The organization called on Congress to draft new legislation consistent with Supreme Court rulings that demand greater competition in telecommunications and broadcasting and the application of "international standards."

Mexican broadcast television is dominated by Televisa, the world's largest Spanish-language media concern, while multibillionaire Carlos Slim exercises near-monopoly power in the market for telephone services.

The Permanent Committee, which assumes legislative duties when Congress is in recess, has requested that the executive branch submit an urgent report explaining the reasons for the spectrum recovery.

The government's announcement has "generated multiple interpretations and great uncertainty over the underlying reasons for taking this step, especially when there are just a few months remaining in the current administration," lawmaker Jose Luis Jaime Correa said.

Calderon's six-year term ends Dec. 1. EFE