Spanish b'caster taps TV-Web veteran as topper

MADRID — TV and Internet veteran Luis Velo has been named CEO of Spain’s biggest commercial broadcaster, Antena 3 (A3).

Velo was previously general manager of e-commerce at Terra Lycos, an Internet services operator owned by Telefonica, which also owns A3. His appointment is part of a major restructuring at the parent company, Spain’s largest film and TV holding.

This will see John de Mol, prexy of Telefonica’s Endemol subsid, playing a defined and central role at Telefonica, and driving convergence synergies that will encourage multiplatform content distribution throughout the parent company’s sprawling film and TV empire in Spain and Latin America.

Production placement

After months of uncertainty since Telefonica’s purchase of Endemol in March, the move to place the pickup at the nerve center of its contents division marks a definitive integration move by Telefonica.

Telefonica has not abandoned its ambitions to buy into more broadcasters in Latin America. Once these nets are acquired, it will seek to clone the diversification policy that CEO Juan Jose Nieto successfully put into place at A3. The policy saw A3 plowing profitably into the production of niche TV channels, cinema theater advertising, telemarketing and new media. Argentine commercial net Telefe, which is owned by Telefonica, already has begun to imitate this diversified approach.

Despite the incorporation of Endemol, Telefonica’s stock market flotation remains in limbo. It originally had been slated for early this year.

Public not ’til 2nd half

Per Telefonica prexy Cesar Alierta, outside of its cell-phone division, none of the company’s subsids will float before the second half of ’01.

Telefonica’s restructuring will see further significant exec changes and its division into three business areas: contents, pay TV and free-to-air TV and radio. Nieto will step down as Antena 3 CEO. Juan Ruiz de Gauna, CEO of satcaster Via Digital, also will become executive general manager of the pay TV division. Manuel Villanueva, former channel director at Sogecable paybox Canal Plus Espana, looks set to become A3’s programming director.

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