Nieto tapped to top Via

TV exec No. 2 to Rios

LANZAROTE, Canary Islands — Emerging as one of the most powerful TV execs in Spain, Juan Jose Nieto has been tapped to replace Pedro Perez as prexy of battling Spanish satcaster Via Digital.

Nieto is already managing director of commercial web Antena 3 and Telefonica Media, the giant film and TV subsid of national telco Telefonica.

Nieto’s appointment clarifies the executive operating structure at Telefonica Media, which holds 47% and 68% stakes in Antena 3 TV and Via, respectively, just months before it hits U.S. and Spanish stock markets in the first half of 2000.

Following his Via posting, Nieto, who is regarded as a highly efficient manager, has emerged as an effective No. 2 to Telefonica Media prexy, Venezuela’s Jose Antonio Rios.

Managing director of Antena 3 TV since August 1997, Nieto has guided the private web to record net profits of $81.6 million for 1998; the profit forecast for 1999 is an excellent $152 million.

Nieto’s appointment comes at a strategic time for Via Digital. Under managing director Juan Ruiz de Gauna, Via has successfully hiked its sub count to 425,000, according to company sources. But Via will have to call on Telefonica Media to underwrite a further capital injection to tide it through the next months. Rival satcaster CanalSatellite Digital (CSD) has just topped the 800,000 sub mark.

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