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Coin quarrel holds up merger

World Brief

BOGOTA — News Corp.’s multimillion-dollar merger of payboxes Sky TV and DirecTV in Latin America is being held up in Colombia by a spat over $10 million in fees that the local TV regulator claims the two companies owe.

Lawyers for both companies allege the National Television Commission (CNTV) is wrong and that they don’t owe any money.

But the CNTV will not approve the merger until the Rupert Murdoch-backed payboxes cough up the cash, and the regulator has been holding out for eight months.

Jacopo Bracco, VP for DirecTV Latin America, says that if the CNTV demands the settlement, the companies won’t merge in Colombia, DirecTV will remain on air, and Sky will be forced into liquidation come September for lack of funding.

Sky and DirecTV have 7% of the market in Colombia with almost 100,000 subscribers. Some 20% of pay TV income in Colombia comes from the broadcasters.

“This relates to the integration in Colombia only and will have no effect at all on the integration of Sky and DirecTV in other countries in Latin America,” Bracco adds.

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