BUENOS AIRES — The Brazilian government launched Monday the final step before the long-awaited opening of bids for cable and MMDS licenses in Latin America’s largest market: a 20-day hearing period during which the Ministry of Communications will accept suggestions concerning the licenses and the way the bidding process will be conducted.

A government spokesman said the bids for a first lot of about 100 licenses — out of a total of some 1,700 licenses — will finally be launched in late August. A ministry source said, however, that it will not occur before Sept. 15.

Local and foreign investors are eagerly waiting for the licenses, which will allow them to enter the fast-growing Brazilian pay TV market with 32 million TV homes and just 2 million subscribers. So far, the government has launched just 113 licenses and the last issue took place in 1991.

Operators will have to pay for the licenses, which will be limited to one to six per town, according to its size and the level of its residents’ income.

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