carlos slim kicks off soccer battle with tv rivals
Last Updated : GMT 08:05:47
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Carlos Slim kicks off soccer battle with TV rivals

Arab Today, arab today

Arab Today, arab today Carlos Slim kicks off soccer battle with TV rivals

Mexico City - AFP

After buying stakes in two soccer teams, Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim has teamed up with US-based television networks to broadcast games and tackle Mexico\'s two dominant channels on their turf. The world\'s richest man opened a new front in his feud with Televisa and TV Azteca after his mobile phone firm America Movil bought 30 percent stakes in Mexican first division teams Pachuca and Club Leon last month. On Thursday, the telecommunications mogul inked a broadcast deal with Fox Sports to televise Leon\'s games in Mexico while US Spanish-language network Telemundo will show games in the United States. \"This is part of a full-frontal war between Slim and the two television channels,\" Miguel Angel Lara, a media expert at Mexico\'s Iberoamericana University, told AFP. The two sides have been fighting to break into each other\'s businesses in order to offer customers bundled packages that include TV, Internet and phone services. The tactics in this battle have been more offensive than defensive, with the TV and telecom titans trading accusations of monopolistic practices. Slim\'s telecom company Telmex withdrew advertisements from the two TV channels, and the broadcasters counter-attacked with ads claiming that Telmex overcharged customers. Slim dominates the telecom market in Mexico. His company Telmex holds around 80 percent of the fixed-line market while Telcel, a unit of America Movil, has 70 percent of the mobile market. Televisa is the biggest television network in the Spanish-language world, while TV Azteca stands as Mexico\'s second largest broadcaster. While Slim has struggled to gain government authorization for a cable TV concession, Televisa and TV Azteca have joined forces to compete in the mobile market by investing together in a company called Iusacell. \"He is not allowed to compete (in the television market) but he also does not allow competition in telecommunications,\" Lara said. \"Slim\'s decision to invest in two soccer teams and form an alliance with Fox Sports is part of an effort to expand in the United States, but also to hit back at the (Mexican) broadcasters,\" he said. Millions of Mexicans tune in to either Televisa or TV Azteca each weekend to watch Liga MX games, which includes wildly popular clubs such as Chivas or Club America. The teams Slim invested in have smaller followings and fewer trophies but his spokesman said he may buy the broadcast rights of other teams in the future. \"We will see how broadcasts of Leon games do and we don\'t rule out the possibility of acquiring the broadcast rights of other teams in the next few years,\" spokesman Arturo Elias Ayub told reporters on Thursday. \"We are in direct competition with the two television networks in other fields and now we are entering soccer,\" Ayub said. \"At the end of the day, people want competition... This is part of this competition and we hope that it will always be nice and clean.\" Juan Mario Cardenas, a columnist for media news magazine Merca2.0, said the arrival of Fox Sports could breath new life into the coverage and commentary of Mexican soccer. \"The lack of media options in soccer has been a great problem historically in Mexico,\" he said. \"The owners of the television channels are literally owners of a few teams. It\'s not healthy.\"

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