Brazil paybox license plan on track

First national bidding for cable licenses since 1991

RIO DE JANEIRO — The long-awaited bidding process for pay TV licenses in Brazil’s booming market is back on track.

Government agency Anatel has announced it is today resuming the process — stalled in January by a series of injunctions — by processing bids for a first batch of cable licenses. Processing of MMDS applications will follow.

Market sources estimate the first round of new licenses will take place in August, provided that no new injunctions are issued.

Cross-ownership concerns

The process — Brazil’s first cable licensing since 100 initial concessions were issued in 1991 — was interrupted by bidders unhappy with rules concerning cross-ownership and other issues. Government lawyers overturned most of the injunctions.

Foreign investors may not control cable licenses, but are allowed to own 100% of firms granted MMDS licenses. Announced foreign bidders include Adelphia, Horizon and United Intl. Holdings.

With just 2.6 million cable and MMDS subscribers in a total of 35 million TV households, Brazil’s pay-TV market is regarded as Latin America’s biggest potential growth market.

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