The television "duopoly"
I’m intrigued when I come across people, whether in forum or even in the comment section of this blog, who refer to the television “duopoly” and compare it to the telecommunications monopoly in Mexico.
This begs us to ask whether in fact there really is a television duopoly in Mexico. It’s clear that in terms of the viewer audience in over-the-air, free television,TV Azteca and its main competitor Televisa.
have captured a considerable share of the total. However, this is the result of large investments in coverage, talent, and programming that corresponds to viewer preferences, something that not even the government, with all the resources at its disposal, has been able to successfully duplicate.
Television requires much more than money. It’s a science and an art, and capturing the publics attention can take years, as we have proven with our Azteca America network, which operates in the United States.
In Mexico City alone, there are five over-the-air television channels that have nothing to do with Azteca or Televisa. On a national level, dozens of such regional channels exist. Meanwhile, conventional cable systems have more than a hundred television alternatives, not to mention Totalplay, which offers more than 250 channels.
Today in Mexico, viewers have access to dozens of television channels in Spanish, but we also have them in English, French, German, and other languages. We have channels specializing in news, entertainment, movies, culture, sports, etc. We have analog and digital television, in conventional and high definition formats, and soon with Totalplay we will even have 3D programming. Mexico has a television diversity that is only found in advanced economies.
In addition, TV in any of its formats competes with an infinite number of media outlets to capture the audience attention. The television “duopoly” in Mexico is a myth created and spread by those who seek to divert attention away from the anticompetitive conditions in their own industries.
We cannot compare this dynamic and growing competitive environment with the static telecommunications market, where a single company has, for years, maintained control of more than 70% of mobile phone lines and 80% of fixed lines.
In 20 years of operation in private hands, this company has demonstrated over and over again its inability to provide quality service at competitive prices and to apply the best standards and practices to the Mexican market.
If a television viewer does not like an Azteca program, he or she can switch to a Televisa channel by simply pressing a button on the remote control; and if he or she is not convinced by this channel, in a split second a viewer can go to canal 11, 22, 28, 34, or 52. Nevertheless, data shows that millions of television viewers like what we do at TV Azteca -and this is no accident, because satisfying the preferences of viewers is what we aim to do every day; it is our passion and responsibility.
Now, let’s suppose that someone does not like over-the-air television. No problem. It’s a free broadcast and the viewer doesn’t pay to see it. (Unfortunately, there is no such thing as free telephony at the moment.) Consumers can sign up for one of the dozens of options of pay TV, or simply watch videos on Internet, through an iPad, iPhone or any other device.
In contrast, a person who faces an emergency, at night, on a highway and finds that his or her cell telephone is not working, has much more at stake than when leisure time is being spent, and the problem cannot be remedied with a single “click.”
Although this is an extreme example, it serves to illustrate the strategic importance of having telecommunication services that do not fail, that offer high standards, and at accessible prices for all.
We cannot compare the dynamic television market with the telecommunications industry. Likewise, we cannot allow the same practices of a company that has 80% of the market as one that has much less market share.
“Duo” means two. From simple arithmetic we know that a television duopoly does not exist in Mexico in the same way that there exists a single dominant player in the telephone market. Being clear about this and reflecting upon it will enable us to demand that the authorities guarantee a level playing field so that we can all have access to top quality telecommunication services at accessible prices. Mexico needs and deserves this.