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Cisneros eyes Spain, Asia

Media mogul feted at Mipcom

Latin American media mogul Gustavo Cisneros, honored as personality of the year Wednesday at Mipcom, put the accent on several growth areas for his Venezuela-based, Florida-headquartered conglom.

First and foremost, the Cisneros Group of Cos. is focused on Spain — specifically on landing a soon-to-be-awarded broadcast license that would put the company squarely in the European mix.

“We definitely want to enter the Spanish market,” Cisneros told a clutch of journalists here Wednesday.

“As for the license, which we didn’t yet get, a lot can happen between now and December (when the frequency award is supposed to be finalized). The game is open.”

Cisneros, whose company owns leading Venezuelan station Venevision and holds a substantial stake in Univision Stateside, was honored for his “relentless energy” and his “global vision.”

The 62-year-old entrepreneur is widely regarded as the first Latin American media maven to see the potential of an integrated Spanish-language Latin American market and the growth prospects of the North American Hispanic market. Cisneros is now putting his energies behind growing CGC’s media presence in China and in India.

About the former, he was pragmatic: “Clearly, as Rupert (Murdoch) found out before us, the Chinese are not ready to let us invest in hardware. We want to provide programming — telenovelas, Internet content and co-productions.

“But we do think China will explode in the next few years,” he added.

Cisneros’ team at Mipcom also is hammering out deals with players in India.

“They have a fantastic local industry. We’re having conversations to sell our (scripts) to Indian partners.” Among potential partners, one of his staffers said, is Sony Entertainment TV, which already beams a profitable entertainment channel to the subcontinent.

In Europe, Cisneros suggested, the penetration of telenovelas continues apace. The group is talking to German producers about a Spanish-language-inspired but Teutonic-produced novela. He also singled out Turkey as an expanding market, with all four terrestrial stations airing his company’s sudsers.

Still, it is Cisneros’ belief that the Spanish-language/English-language combo is the most powerful in the media world, one he believes solidifies his company’s future as a global media player.

“Instead of fighting English,” he said, “we have made a commitment to it. After all, this business is about building bridges across cultures.”

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