Uruguayan pay TV operators continue to demand changes in the Media Law to include internet as part of their offer

Washington Melo, President at the Camara Uruguaya de Television para Abonados (CUTA), demands the country’s Government to move forward on the implementation of a new legal framework, in order to boost the sector. The entity he presides gathers 83 pay TV operators in Uruguay. 

‘Cable TV company’s viability is seriously threatened because everything is geared towards internet growth, and we are running out of products. Companies cannot take it anymore’, Melo reported in an interview with the Uruguayan newspaper ‘El Pais’, published on August 24th.The exclusive pay TV model is outdated’, he added. In relation to the current situation of the area’s business model, Melo explained that ‘today we are on the top of our possibilities, although, if this model continues, we will disappear’.

Regarding the current legal framework in Uruguay, Melo explained that ‘Article 56 of the current Media Law (N° 19,307;  2014), establishes an incompatibility, according to which whoever provides Internet services cannot provide pay TV offers, and the same with pay TV operators, which cannot include internet services as part of their offers. Although this was a brake on the development of our sector, it was also presented as a protection for national companies. There were agreements with Antel -company that manages the business of fixed and mobile telephony and internet connections in Uruguay- for the optimization of resources’, reported the executive, who then explained that now  ‘contents are available directly over the internet, without reaching cable TV, so that the protection provided was violated, it fell by the wayside’. Likewise, the Uruguayan Supreme Court of Justice established the unconstitutionality to ban the already mentioned article in the current Media Law; and content providers have already announced that they will begin to restrict content for pay TV, in order to reach customers from the internet through OTT platforms. ‘We are part of a model that is exhausted in Uruguay and in the world’, the executive warned.

With Luis Lacalle Pou’s Government, now President of Uruguay, a new Media Law project was presented where, according to Melo, ‘the President’s commitment to cancel the legal impediment to offer  telecommunications services as part of TV services is clear. This way, the executive explained that ¿unfortunately, more than a year and a half ago, the new Media Law is still being analyzed, and, when it was ready to be voted on in Parliament, new articles appeared and everything was blocked, despite the urgency that our sector faces’, reported CUTA’s President.

‘CUTA’s affiliated companies do not demand subsidies, exemptions or privileges, but rather they want to put an end to an illegal prohibition to enter the internet and telecommunications world, with the aim of continuing to bet on a country with more investments, jobs and options for people’, ended Melo.