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TCI’s TyC pockets Pramer

Argentine affil grabs 16-channel programmer

MIAMI — TCI Intl.’s Argentine programming affiliate, Torneos y Competencias (TyC), has agreed in principle to acquire top local programmer Pramer, the U.S. cabler announced Monday.

The deal is one of a series of new moves by top sports programmer TyC, which insiders say is fronting for voracious local investor group CEI.

Like TCI Intl., CEI owns 40% of TyC, but CEI, backed by Citicorp, is said to be using TyC as one of several tools with which to build a media titan that can subdue local behemoth Clarin.

Currently owned by Eduardo Eurnekian, Pramer is the most prolific programmer in Argentina’s 5.4 million-sub market: its 16 channels include popular net Magic Kids and newsnet CVN.

None of Pramer’s channels currently has pan-Latino distribution, but TCI Intl. prez David Evans said some of the programming might be incorporated into TCI-backed satcaster platforms, such as Sky Latin America.

In conjunction with the Pramer deal, TyC also agreed to buy 7.2% of Eurnekian’s MultiMedios America group, which owns broadcaster America 2 and other media; TyC has an option to buy the remaining 92.8%.

In another related deal, TyC has also contracted to buy a 10% stake in Editorial Atlantida, a publisher with a major stake in top broadcaster Telefe, in exchange for 10% of its own stock. CEI is meanwhile negotiating to buy out Atlantida entirely.

In yet another related deal, announced late last week, TyC topper Carlos Avila has taken over the leadership of broadcaster Canal 9 (Libertad).

Oz media group Prime TV owns 50% of Canal 9, having sold the other half to TyC and CEI, but there are even rumors in the Argentine press that Prime, too, is fronting for CEI.

If all deals currently in negotiation go through, CEI and/or TyC will have stakes in three broadcasters (channels 11, 9 and 2), the nation’s No. 2 MSO, the top Argentine programmer, at least half a dozen radio stations and sundry other media.

Avila, a savvy businessman who built TyC into a local soccer rights monopoly, is said to be the operational brains behind CEI’s media strategy. Avila said he will beef up the Canal 9 slate with more sports programming, plus toons and docus.

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