Mexican Senate approves telecom reform

Mexico's Senate on Tuesday approved legislation to open up the telecommunications industry, a sector dominated by two television channels and billionaire Carlos Slim's phone empire.

The bill, already approved by the lower house, is one of the signature reforms being pushed by President Enrique Pena Nieto, who took office in December with a vow to improve the country's competitiveness.

"What we are doing is opening (the market) to competition," Jorge Luis Preciado, a member of the Senate's radio, film and television committee, told a radio station. "Now it's everybody against everybody."

Slim's fixed-line phone company, Telmex, controls 80 percent of the industry while his cellphone service, Telcel, holds 70 percent of the mobile market.

The legislation also aims to break the dominance of the country's two powerful television broadcasters, Televisa and TV Azteca. Televisa holds 70 percent of broadcast television and 60 percent of the cable market.

The legislation passed with 108 votes in favor and three against, with the backing of the leaders of the main opposition parties, the conservative National Action Party (PAN) and the Democratic Revolution Party (PRD).