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Telefonica says no Mas at media unit

Topper Alierta dismisses Antena 3 prexy

MADRID — Cesar Alierta, prexy of Spanish telco giant Telefonica, has dismissed Jose Maria Mas as president of Spanish commercial broadcaster Antena 3. Telefonica’s film and TV conglom, Telefonica Media, holds a controlling 47.5% stake in A3.

Mas was one of the few top execs at a TM company remaining from the era of Juan Villalonga, who was forced out of power as Telefonica prexy in July 2000 by the combined opposition of Telefonica’s bank shareholders and the Spanish government.

Getting brass onboard

Alierta announced at a Telefonica board meeting Wednesday that he will create a five-person steering committee to direct Telefonica Media in tandem with its exec prexy, Juan Jose Nieto. Panel is likely to be packed with trusted Alierta collaborators. Committee’s main aim will be to address TM’s daunting mountain of debt.

Law professor Juan Antonio Sagardoy, a close friend of Alierta, is tapped to fill one seat. Enrique Alvarez, prexy of Arthur Andersen Espana, is a front-runner to replace Mas.

TM posted net losses of 627 million euros ($544 million) in 2000, sluiced by red ink at satcaster Via Digital and its Argentine TV assets, led by broadcaster Telefe.

Committee appointments could be made before Alierta goes on vacation in mid-August.

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