World’s richest man wins TV rights

Mexican magnate Carlos Slim, the world’s richest man, secured the Latin American broadcast rights to the 2014 and 2016 Olympics on Friday.

The IOC said America Movil, the Mexican telecommunications company controlled by Slim, was awarded the rights to next year’s Winter Games in Sochi and the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro on media platforms across Latin America. The deal does not include Brazil.

Financial terms were not disclosed.

It’s the first time the IOC has granted rights to America Movil. The rights to the Rio Games were in high demand because they will be the first Olympics held in South America.

"In 2016 the Olympic Games in Rio will be a significant moment in Olympic history, and we are very pleased to have reached this important agreement to ensure fans across the continent are able to have the best broadcast experience of the games,” IOC President Jacques Rogge said in a statement.

The negotiations with America Movil were led by IOC finance commission chairman Richard Carrion of Puerto Rico.

”They demonstrated a clear passion for the Olympic values and are excited about the Games coming to Latin America in 2016,” he said. ”We believe this is a great deal for our stakeholders.”

In Mexico, Arturo Elias Ayub, Slim’s son-in-law and spokesman, welcomed the IOC’s decision.

”We are extremely pleased to have reached this successful agreement,” Elias Ayub said in a statement. ”The Olympic Games will be broadcast across all media platforms in Latin America … helping millions of people in Latin America to have access to the largest international sporting event.”

Elias Ayub told the Mexican newspaper Reforma that the deal gives America Movil the possibility of re-selling the rights in Latin America and of broadcasting the games on a new television channel in Mexico if Slim’s Telmex company gets the rights to it once a new telecommunications reform is signed into law.

America Movil is one of the leading providers of cable or satellite TV service in Latin America with 16 million subscribers in 18 countries, except Mexico, where Slim has been trying to get into Television.

Securing the Olympic Games’ rights allows Slim to expand its presence in Latin American’s TV industry but more importantly, it shows his business model’s aim is to offer convergence services, which integrate the dissemination of voice, data, sound or pictures through a single network, experts said.

”This is a huge opportunity for Slim to clearly show the importance he is giving to the television content sector,” said Jorge Negrete, a telecommunications expert in Mexico.

Slim has been trying to enter the television market in Mexico, which is controlled by Televisa, the world’s largest Spanish language broadcaster and who in the past had the rights to broadcast the Olympics Games in the country of 112 million.

The two rivals exert near-total control of Mexico’s lucrative telephone and television markets.

Slim’s Telmex controls 80 percent of Mexican landlines and 70 percent of the mobile-phone market. Televisa has 70 percent of the broadcast TV market and more than 45 percent of cable television.

A Televisa spokesman who is not authorized to speak publicly said the company wouldn’t comment on IOC’s decision.

A reform aimed at bringing greater competition to Mexico’s highly concentrated telecoms sector was approved by legislators late Thursday.

”America Movil was specifically in the conventional telecommunications sector, the fixed and mobile telephony … what is happening now is that America Movil is now entering (the television) sector in a very clear way,” said Fernando Gutierrez, a communications professor at Tec de Monterrey University.

Slim has been ranked the world’s richest man four years in a row by Forbes. In the latest annual list, Slim’s net worth increased to $73 billion from $69 billion a year earlier.

The IOC announced a separate agreement in 2009 for the 2014-2016 broadcast rights in Brazil. In a deal worth $210 million, TV Globo acquired the main rights across all platforms in partnership with Bandeirantes and Rede Record.

Associated Press writers Adriana Gomez-Licon and Olga R. Rodriguez in Mexico City contributed to this report.