As expected, the five Cofetel commissioners met today and elected their newest member, Mony de Swaan as Chairman for the next four years. De Swaan had been chief of staff to Juan Molinar, the SCT Secretary, and was only appointed last week by President Calderón to fill the chair vacated by Héctor Osuna’s surprise resignation. (CNN Expansión 7/7)
SCT Secretary Juan Molinar announced that his chief of staff, Mony de Swaan will be named by President Calderón to the Cofetel seat left empty by the sudden resignation of Hector Osuna last week. De Swaan came to SCT when Molinar was named Secretary, and had also been Molinar’s deputy when the latter was an IFE counsellor. In her business column, Maricarmen Cortés wrote that President Calderón would likely push for the Commission to vote de Swann into the chairmanship. She also noted that the pros for naming de Swaan were the prospect of greater coordination between the Ministry and Cofetel and the likely abolition of the ‘double window’ whereby telecommunications regulations have to be approved by both the SCT and Cofetel. The cons are his “brief but intense” background in telecommunications issues, and the likely de facto reduction of Cofetel’s autonomy.
A 2007 Supreme Court decision removed the Senate’s power to confirm Cofetel commissioners (on the grounds that the Cofetel is, as a body within the SCT, part of the executive branch and not a true autonomous agency). However, a number of parties have threatened to file suit to block de Swaan’s appointment on the grounds that he does not meet the legal qualifications as “having carried out in a distinguished manner professional, public service, or academic activities substantially related to the telecommunications sector.”
(Universal 6/30, 7/1)
In a surprise move, the controversial Chairman of the Federal Telecommunications Commission, Héctor Osuna, said he would not seek to be re-elected to a new 4-year term as Chairman and also resigned from the Commission. The five Cofetel commissioners are nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate; the commissioners elect one of their own number as chairman. The Cofetel session scheduled for the 25th that was to have elected a chairman for the next term was cancelled. It is expected that the four remaining commissioners will operate without electing a chairman until President Calderón nominates a new commissioner and the Senate confirms him/her. While Osuna said he was resigning for personal reasons, most commentary implied that he resigned after determining that he would not be re-elected. The Cofetel has frequently served as Exhibit A for the lack of effective regulatory oversight in Mexico. There is an uneasy division of labor between the SCT and Cofetel in terms of regulation of the communications sector, and the body is currently involved in the auction of new wireless spectrum. (Universal 6/24)
Osuna was a PAN Senator and one of the promoters of during the Fox administration of the Ley Televisa (since declared unconstitutional) that locked in the dominant market position of the incumbent TV broadcasters. Last year, he was identified by then-SCT Undersecretary Purificación Carpinteyro as the source of leaked recordings of then-SCT Secretary Luis Téllez’ phone conversations that led to Tellez’ resignation.
Columnist Miguel Angel Granados Chapa wrote,
“Héctor Osuna is exceptional: He was elected to the Cofetel in a cynical payback of favors. As the motor in the Senate for passing the Ley Televisa that gave that conglomerate the legal backing that it wanted (even though the law was defanged [by the Supreme Court]), he finished the game as the regulator that [the broadcasters] needed. And now he departs without any rendering of accounts before the Commission or facing Purificación Carpinteyro, who has shown more gallantry and integrity than he who is leaving Cofetel, dogged by his unmet obligations.” (Reforma 6/25)