Cisneros founded TV p'gramming arm of Cisneros Group

MIAMI — Carlos Cisneros, nephew of Venezuelan media and industrial magnate Gustavo Cisneros, died at age 38 on Saturday .

The death has been tentatively ruled a suicide but further confirmation is still pending. A friend found Cisneros’ body on the bedroom floor of his home in Los Angeles. Empty pill bottles were found at the scene. Cisneros had a history of bipolar disorder and was reported to have been depressed lately.

Calls to a Cisneros Group spokesman were not returned. A memo was apparently distributed internally on Monday announcing the passing.

Carlos Cisneros founded the Cisneros Television Group, the pay TV programming arm of the Cisneros Group, in 1995. Under his leadership as chairman and CEO, CTG expanded rapidly, spending millions to acquire programming assets, primarily in Argentina.

Having allied with Playboy to launch its adult nets into Latin America, CTG formed a joint venture that became Playboy TV Intl.

The younger Cisneros quietly stepped down from his managerial role in the wake of the announcement that CTG’s holding company Ibero-American Media Partners (whose shareholders were his uncle’s Cisneros Group and Hicks, Muse, Tate, & Furst) would merge with flailing Internet portal El Sitio.

That merger was completed in 2001, creating Claxson Interactive Group, into which the Cisneros Group also lumped other Latin American media assets outside its home market of Venezuela.

Claxson was hit especially hard by the collapse of the Argentinian economy, given its heavy exposure there.

By the end of 2002, the Playboy TV Intl. venture had come undone, with Playboy taking full control of the feevees, outside of the Latin American channel operation, in which it maintained a minority stake.

Carlos Cisneros did not retain a board seat on Claxson after the company was created and was no longer visible in the Latin American media scene in Miami.

Cisneros was an art collector and an arts patron, supporting such local institutions as the Miami Art Museum and performance organization Miami Light Project.

A native Venezuelan, Cisneros spent the first eight years of his life in Brazil. When he was 17, his father died while trying to save him from drowning in the Amazon river.

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