Skip to main content

Another Latino Independent Gets Married

New Orleans -- Following a programming-consolidation trend,
yet another independent pay TV channel in Latin America has become hitched to a major
media player in the region.

Music-video channel MuchMusic Argentina was acquired by
Miami-based Cisneros Television Group, the companies said here last week at the National
Association of Television Programming Executives convention.

The MuchMusic franchise springs from Toronto-based Chum
Television. However, the Argentine operation is very much controlled by local investors.
Prior to the CTG takeover, MuchMusic Argentina was 60 percent-owned by Canal Joven S.A.,
an Argentine company run by a group of local entrepreneurs including channel president
Ralph Haiek.

The remaining 40 percent stake was owned by Moses Znaimer
and Chum, of which Znaimer is vice president of development.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The MuchMusic Argentina acquisition fits in with a growing
pattern of independent channels in the region being scooped up by larger entities. The
advantages in this case are clear.

CTG -- together with its parent company, Cisneros Group of
Cos. -- owns a vast media infrastructure including cable, broadcast and direct-to-home
platforms in and beyond Latin America.

Even before it took ownership of MuchMusic Argentina, CTG
was distributing the channel through its Buenos Aires, Argentina-based programming and
distribution company, Imagen Satelital S.A.

"We are facing a hypercompetitive market, where
channels are losing distribution leverage. The only way to introduce a concept like
MuchMusic is to have the strength of a group that has distribution," Haiek explained.

Seconding that was Stephen Tapp, vice president and general
manager of ChumCity International, the distribution and development arm of Chum

"The days of the fierce, scrappy independent channels
with no distribution are numbered. We are now into the days of niche, specialized TV with
partners that can offer distribution," Tapp said.

Capitalizing further on its media holdings, CTG has also
entered into a partnership arrangement with ChumCity International to develop MuchMusic
channel franchises throughout Latin America.

"What you will see are localized MuchMusic [channels].
Our success is about being local, "Tapp said.

This was evidenced, he said, by the 3.2 million cable
subscribers (more than one-half of all Argentine cable subscribers) that MuchMusic
Argentina had garnered since it launched in 1992. The network is consistently the
top-rated cable-music channel in its market, he added.