Government considers appeal of Anatel’s ruling over Telemar’s Way TV purchase

27 Mar 2007

The Brazilian government says it might appeal the telecoms regulator Anatel’s decision to block Tele Norte Leste Participacoes (Telemar) from buying CATV provider Way TV Belo Horizonte SA. ‘We will find a way to contest the decision if consumers are being hurt,’ said the country’s telecommunications minister Helio Costa, adding, ‘I am very worried.’ Earlier this month Anatel rejected Telemar’s acquisition of Way TV under rules barring companies from providing telecoms and cable services in the same region. In an interview with Bloomberg however, Costa argues that the watchdog’s decision is suspect as it is based on a law that is unclear in this area and subject to misinterpretation. Telemar is already considering an appeal and Costa is calling for new legislation to deal with specific problems such as these, arguing that without it, companies are being put off investing in Brazil. He went on say that the state is drafting a proposal to modernise the telecoms law and plans to send the proposal to Congress later this year. He declined to provide details.

Spanish telecoms giant Telefónica will be watching developments closely. Only yesterday CommsUpdate reported that Brazil’s pay-TV operators’ association ABTA had filed a request with the Brazilian antitrust division Cade, seeking to block Telefónica’s attempt to acquire control of local CATV operator TVA Sistema de Televisão (TVA). The association argues that if completed, the takeover would act as an insurmountable barrier to new cable operators entering the market. The Spanish firm acquired a stake in TVA, the cable TV arm of Brazil’s largest magazine publisher Grupo Abril, in October 2006.