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Colombia TV prices stun bidders

BOGOTA — The creation of Colombia’s first two private TV stations could prove a washout after contenders blanched last week at the prospect of paying a minimum $95 million for the licenses.

Cash-strapped TV companies said that they were expecting a far lower base price than the $95 million set by the National Television Commission (CNTV) for the 10-year license, sparking fears that no bids will be made when the process opens in the first week of July.

“The companies were expecting (a base price) around half or less than half of what is being asked,” said Juan Fernando Ujueta, legal adviser at programmer RCN.

A group formed by RCN, publishers El Tiempo and programmer RTI is one of three contenders left in the running following the pre-qualification stage. Rival bidders are Tevecolor, backed by programmer Producciones Punch, and programmer Caracol.

Ujueta declined to say whether RCN is considering pulling out of the process. Meanwhile, Guillomar Sanin, coordinator of the private channel project at Caracol, said that his company is “analyzing the conditions” of the sale.

The two new nets, due to be launched Jan. 1, will mark the advent of private control in Colombia’s TV sector. Currently, all channels are state-owned, with private programmers buying airtime.

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