Will focus on news and sports

SANTIAGO — Mexico’s TV Azteca has completed a $10.3 million, 75% purchase of low-ranked Chilean broadcaster La Red (Canal 4) from newspaper group Copesa.

First announced last December (Daily Variety, Dec. 8), the deal was inked by Azteca’s exec prez of international ops, Jose Ignacio Morales, and Copesa exec VP Juan Carlos Latorre.

Previously, La Red was 49%-owned by CanWest. After two years of losses, and with its audience share stuck at around 5%, the Canadians bailed out in November 1996 for $9.5 million.

Morales said Azteca, which already owns webs in El Salvador and Guatemala, had contemplated buying 100% of La Red, but they preferred a longterm strategic alliance with Copesa, a company with close knowledge of the Chilean market.

La Red’s slate is being re-evaluated, and the Mexican exec announced a $5 million investment to extend its reach from 81 to 94% of Chile’s territory, and to acquire a mobile unit for news. Sports and news will be emphasized by the new owners.

La Red will also soon re-subscribe to Time-Ibope’s people meter service, from which it withdrew several years ago.

Azteca’s entry marks the third Latino investment in Chilean broadcast: Televisa owns 49% of third-ranked Megavision, while Chilevision is wholly owned by Venezuela’s Cisneros Group.

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