TV Azteca snags stake in Costa Rica b’caster

Latin media co. pays $2 mil for piece of Canal 4

MEXICO CITY — TV Azteca announced June 29 the purchase of a 35% stake in broadcaster Canal 4 de Costa Rica for $2 million.

Costa Rican law on foreign investment limits TV Azteca’s holding to 35%. However, TV Azteca will control the day-to-day operations, including programming, local production, sales and marketing.

The Canal 4 signal reaches 80% of Costa Rica’s 850,000 television homes. It broadcasts 12 hours a day and is one of six commercial TV networks in the country, where the TV ad market is projected to reach $40 million this year.

The Costa Rica purchase is the first of a series of planned foreign acquisitions by Azteca this year.

In 1997, Azteca acquired a controlling interest in stations in El Salvador, Chile and Guatemala, for a total of about $17 million.

It has earmarked between $80 million and $100 million for an aggressive expansion in Latin America in 1998. Azteca also plans to expand into the U.S. Hispanic market.

“Our goal is to have an Azteca-controlled network of television stations from Toronto to Tierra del Fuego,” Azteca topper Ricardo Salinas Pliego said.

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