Claxson bows Spanish lingo cabler

Infinito reaches 8.2 mil in Latin America

MIAMI — Claxson Interactive Group’s Infinito channel is making its U.S. bow via Time Warner Cable’s DTV en Espanol digital package in the New York City area.

When Time Warner launched the digital package last month, it already included another Claxson feevee, music channel HTV, part of the Miami- and Buenos aires-based programmer’s efforts to tap into the U.S. Hispanic market.

Infinito, a channel dedicated to unexplained mysteries and phenomena, will be available to 1.4 million Hispanic subs in Manhattan, Queens, Staten Island, Brooklyn, and Mt. Vernon, N.Y. and Bergen and Hudson counties in New Jersey.

Under the accord with Time Warner, other TW systems in the country will have the option to acquire Infinito. A Claxson spokesman said the company is already in talks with some of those MSOs to explore possible additional carriage agreements, also on digital cable.

Infinito currently reaches 8.2 million viewers in Latin America, with a 24-hour channel airing a combination of originally produced and acquired programming.

To start, the U.S. feed will air only original programming in a six-hour block to be repeated four times per day.

However, over 2003-2004, Claxson expects to produce another 750 to 1,000 hours of proprietary programming, so that eventually the U.S. channel will operate on a full 24-hour schedule.

With a mandate to tailor the channel to U.S. Hispanic auds, Claxson will likely pursue some production in the United States, in Miami and Los Angeles, in addition to its efforts within Latin America.

Programming is divided into themed blocks, such as the mystical or the esoteric and the occult, examining religious traditions, prophecies, unsolved mysteries, astrology and the existence of extraterrestials, among other themes.

Claxson backers include the Cisneros Group of Cos. and Hicks Muse Tate & Furst.

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