TV execs ponder priorities

Question: What major developments will there be in Spain's TV sector in the immediate future?

CARLOS ABAD

Sogecable managing director

“Commercial TV faces a falloff in advertising and the increasingly clear emergence of alternative TV, which took a 7% market share this summer. Pay TV will continue to see ferocious competition as players attempt to corner a significantly growing market. (New) pay TV operators will have problems laying foundations for viable economic growth. There will have to be legislative change, at least for digital terrestrial television. Otherwise, it won’t make much commercial or practical sense for operators to launch next year, as rulings demand.”

ALVARO AUGUSTIN

Telecinco deputy director

“(Digital terrestrial television) is a big question. The main broadcasters are obliged by law to broadcast digital feeds (by) April 2002. We’ll do it. But our allotted technical capacity isn’t enough for value-added services such as interactive TV. It’s not worth investing hugely in a system which can’t be received by consumers. Alternative TV is obviously growing. But in the immediate future the main free-to-air broadcasters will maintain near-20% market shares.”

JOSE MIGUEL CONTRERAS

Arbol Group board member

“The biggest challenge is, as ever, to bring order to the market. To address the (distorting) role that (ad-driven) pubcasters have in Spain. Pay TV still has to settle down. It’s been hurt badly by competition and excessive costs of soccer rights and U.S. studio fare. (Digital terrestrial television) still hasn’t any agreement on how to get the signal to viewers. The new operators can’t possibly cover all the costs of launching DTT on their own. But the government hasn’t shown any signs of stepping in.”

ALVARO DE LA RIVA

TVE managing director

“For a mature TV market like Spain’s, the principal midterm challenge is audience fragmentation. Operators won’t be able to survive on advertising alone. Some will have to plow deeper into pay-per-view, or cut skedding costs through rights pooling, sales to new markets or new format development. Above all, the future will depend on the market. The recent history of advance-generation cell phone underscores the potential gulf between operators’ expectations and real consumer demand.”

JOSE VELASCO

Zeppelin CEO, TV producer

“Recent growth in TV production has been powered by rising revenues at private nets. A second key development will be increasing convergence between TV and mobile phone, Internet and broadband. We have to establish a fixed financing model for public TV. Whatever it is, it will have a huge impact on the TV ad market and production.”

MANUEL VILLANUEVA

Antena 3

programming director

“Profits. Every kind of operator should mature its line of business, but never forget profits.”

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