GE accuses Mexico’s TV firms of Telemundo plot

From Reuters

General Electric Co. lashed out Monday at a lack of competition in Mexico’s broadcasting industry and said it had been vilified because of plans by its Telemundo unit to start a network in the country.

GE said in full-page ads in several Mexican dailies that Mexico’s second-largest network, TV Azteca, had attacked GE on one of its news shows last week in the hope of thwarting an application by its U.S. Spanish-language television arm, Telemundo, for a broadcasting license.

“This use of the media only confirms the consensus about the need for more competition in Mexican television,” said GE, a diversified conglomerate with operations that include jet engines and commercial lending.


Mexico’s television industry is dominated by Televisa and TV Azteca, the country’s only nationwide broadcasters and the producers of almost all the country’s programming.

In April, Telemundo teamed up with Grupo Xtra -- which has businesses in the tourism, pharmaceutical and food industries -- to apply for a broadcasting license and to start pumping out Spanish-language soap operas and other shows for broadcast in the United States.

Telemundo is owned by NBC, which is 80% owned by GE.

The TV Azteca news show last week described GE as “a transnational company accused of unfair and monopolistic practices, fraud and everything you can imagine,” according to a transcript on the broadcaster’s website.

In the same news spot, TV Azteca also criticized Grupo Xtra’s pharmaceutical subsidiary, Grupo Casa Saba, saying it had “a black history of impunity, abuses and injustice.”

In recent weeks, TV Azteca and Televisa’s evening news programs have run several emotionally charged features on the effects of rising medicine costs for Mexico’s poor.

The programs, typically including scenes of weeping parents and other family members, blame Grupo Casa Saba for making drugs unaffordable.

Televisa and TV Azteca said the news features addressed important social issues and had nothing to do with Grupo Xtra’s attempt to move into television.

Televisa is the world’s No. 1 producer of Spanish-language content and the largest supplier of programming to Univision Communications Inc., the leading Spanish-language broadcaster in the United States.

Telemundo has complained that Televisa employed anti-competitive practices in Mexico while trying to expand in the United States and that Telemundo had been “frozen out” of previous attempts to find distribution here.