Portuguese web links with Antena 3

Leading Spanish net looks to reinvigorate low-flying web

MADRID — Leading Spanish TV net Antena 3 TV has inked an agreement in principle with low flying Portuguese web Televisao Independente (TVI) to take an equity stake in the private TV network.

According to press reports, under the terms of agreement the new partners would jointly underwrite an amplification of TVI’s capital base aimed at injecting new cash flow into the debt laden channel in order to reinvigorate its programming.

Launched in 1992, the Catholic Church inspired TVI has struggled to around a 12% market share, sustaining startup losses reported by one source at $90 million.

After fierce downsizing, however, it did claim a small operating profit for 1997 of some $300,000. The majority shareholding in the company is split up between European investment funds.

Antena 3 TV’s entry is, however, just one option left open to TVI. Portuguese media giant Lusomundo, the country’s biggest film and video distrib and a TVI creditor, will also be submitting a blueprint for TVI’s recovery at a creditors’ meeting in April.

Antena 3 TV’s mooted entry into TVI is one of its first new moves in international expansion since its takeover last July by Spanish telco Telefonica, the richest company in Spain.

It is not likely to be the last. Although Antena 3 TV has to appoint a head of its new international division, it is mulling further overseas expansion, especially in Latin America, where it already operates digital satcast feed Antena 3 TV Internacional.

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