Latin TV in fiesta mode

An avalanche of new satellite/cable feeds from the U.S. and Latin America is revolutionizing the TV market south of the border.

Nowhere was this more clear than during this year’s Argentine cable market, which wrapped here on Friday.

The onslaught in Argentina, where an estimated 3 million homes are now cabled , makes this the second-largest cabled country in the world after the United States.

Webs take stand

U.S. banners taking big stands at the market included Turner, HBO Ole, Fox, Gems and NBC News.

Biggest stand was that of local TV maven Alberto Gonzalez’s Imagen Satelital, costing $ 150,000.

In addition to the seven channels he already has on the air, the biggest of which is the movie channel SPACE, Gonzalez announced the launch of two new cable channels, Universo and Infinito.

Scaled-down NATPE

The exhibition hall, which occupies twice the floor space of last year’s event, was reminiscent of a scaled-down NATPE.

A bevy of miniskirted hostesses and promotional razzmatazz is part of the come-on.

News is one of the most competitive areas for U.S. and local rivals.

CNN is already facing three locally produced 24-hour-a-day Argentine news feeds put out by some of the most powerful media groups in the country.

Also beaming news in Spanish to Latin America are NBC News and ECO from Mexico. And U.S. Hispanic web Telemundo is prepping a large news operation, based in Miami, to feed a service to Latin America.

Argentine specialties

As with the proliferation of news channels, there already exist a dozen Argentine versions of all the major specialty areas being beamed down by U.S. companies: sports, novelas, cartoons, music, erotica, etc.

Of most interest to local cable operators — about 400 of the biggest surfaced at the show — was the hardware exhibited at the market.

All are eager to improve their technology and increase channel capacity.

Show of the year

Next year’s event, tentatively planned for October, is expected to be twice the size of this year’s. Some observers opined that the event could evolve into the cable show of the year for all of Latin America.

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