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Ibero net set for the Americas

Officials from nine countries meet to discuss project

MEXICO CITY — Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking nations are studying a project to create an Iberoamerican Channel that would broadcast cultural fare throughout the Americas.

Officials from nine countries, including Spain and Brazil, held their first joint meeting here to discuss the project that was proposed by Mexico’s culture ministry. The channel would take the best content from individual nation’s pubcasters as well as produce original programs.

“We have a good advance in terms of technical operation, programming, transmission,” said Erinque Strauss, director of Mexican pubcaster Canal 22. “What is left to do is serious work over budget issues.”

Reps from culture ministries and pubcasters committed to having a final plan for the channel ready for approval at a November meeting in Brazil of television authorities from the 23 nations that form the Organization for Education, Science and Culture of Iberoamerican States (OIE).

Seed money

Mexico has put up $200,000 as seed money for the channel and is offering the use of its satellite platform operated by Satmex.

Officials agreed to launch a fund that will support television programs for the channel that will operate in a similar fashion to the Ibermedia Cine fund that helps co-produce around 150 films per year. Spain has anted up e500,000 ($602,000) for the fund that will begin operating in 2006 and other countries are reviewing how much they can contribute.

Strauss said officials were studying plans to fund the channel through both pay satellite subscriptions as well as commercial sponsors. Some nations have public broadcasters that could carry a signal, while others would be limited to satellite reception.

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