Argentina nixes telco pay TV plan

Telefonica launch deemed unlawful

Argentina’s broadcasting regulator Comfer has nixed telco giant Telefonica Argentina’s plans to launch a pay TV channel over its DSL broadband lines.

“They can’t, the law doesn’t allow it,” Comfer head Julio Barbaro said at a broadband conference in Mar del Plata, Argentina. “If Telefonica launches television over the Internet it will loose its license.”

Spanish-owned Telefonica, the second-biggest media group in Argentina, said in December that it wanted to introduce Speedy TV to increase revenue per user by offering more services over the same infrastructure. It has 4.8 million fixed-lines installed and 586,000 broadband subs. 

The broadcasting law prohibits phone companies from offering TV content, which is offered by cablers and satcasters to 5.3 million subs. Cablers have 34% of the broadband market and DSL providers 62%.

Cablers like Cablevision and Multicanal, which are backed by the country’s biggest media conglom, Grupo Clarin, have been lobbying to prevent phone companies from entering the pay TV market.

Telefonica Argentina could not be reached for comment. 

It operates a network of nine broadcasters including top-ranked Telefe in Buenos Aires, and runs a large TV studio behind hits like “Montecristo” and remakes of U.S. sitcoms like “Married … With Children.” It also has interests in film, music and theater. Telefe Intl. is the country’s biggest content exporter and one of the three biggest in Latin America.

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