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MNI Summit Examines State of Global Industry

New Orleans-Issues such as making more money, market consolidation and getting the most out of content emerged as some of the main themes at the Multichannel News International Summit 3 here May 7.

Some panelists discussed the elements driving their businesses forward. James Ackerman, CEO of British interactive-TV platform Open, said electronic commerce is a driving force at his company. About 45 percent of Open's subscribers log on at least once a week and spend an average of 19 minutes online per session.

Companies can also leverage their existing content to help create additional revenue. Jay Switzer, senior vice president and general manager of Canada's ChumCity International, said the company's MuchMusic channel was able to sell 2 million compact discs over the past nine months.

Latin American consolidation and its effects also emerged as a theme. As MSO investors such as Dallas-based Hicks, Muse, Tate & Furst Inc. increase their presence in the region's systems market, they've become more able to make multi-country carriage deals-a move that could rationalize the business.

Ahmad Khamsi, president and CEO of Venezuelan MSO Super-Cable, speculated that in five to 10 years, between eight and 10 major players would control about 80 percent of that region's subscribers.

The consolidation could also help to shore up the Latin American pay TV ad market by creating more transparency in areas such as subscriber reporting, said Paul Savoldelli, Hicks, Muse's principal for Latin America.

Discovery Communications Inc. chairman John Hendricks predicted viewers would tap a programmer's library material, rather than depending on traditional channel delivery. He also said programmers could create additional revenue by charging consumers to download bits and pieces of their libraries.