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Latin Cable Market Biz Brisk

The fifth annual Jornadas de Cable pay TV fest – Latin America’s answer to the National Cable TV Assn. confab – saw brisk business last month, with a large group of U.S.-based networks reporting better-than-expected sales despite this year’s Argentine recession.

But local operators said times were hard in the market (Nov. 19-22) of 5 million subscribers. Independent sources estimate slight market growth in 1995, but many operators bemoaned subscriber losses to wrestle better terms for U.S. programming.

“Argentine operators are complaining that they’re suffering like the Mexicans, but their currency hasn’t devalued, so we’re not agreeing to renegotiate rates,” said a U.S. sales exec who asked not to be named.

Yet the exec added that many programmers were offering free marketing assistance, waiving subscriber growth guarantees and restructuring credit terms, due to the economic slowdown and a national credit squeeze.

Programmers also found the Jornadas more packed than ever with competitors- including 10 debuting U.S. networks – seeking a piece of the $1.5 billion Argentine cable market.

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