News Corp. eyeing CEI

Murdoch looking for bigger stake in Argentina

BUENOS AIRES — Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., whose satcaster Sky Latin America is hoping for an Argentine bow some time this year, is looking at taking a position in local media titan CEI, local sources say.

At the very least, CEI is a frontrunner candidate to be a local distribution partner for Sky.

Argentina’s other major media conglom, Grupo Clarin, has already partnered with Hughes-backed rival satcaster Galaxy Latin America (GLA), which launched here earlier this month.

TCI Intl., a fellow backer of Sky, is already partnered with CEI in several pay TV businesses, and CEI’s cable operations would offer synergies with Sky distribution.

In separate news, CEI prexy Richard Handley confirmed the conglom’s interest in taking a stake in TVA, the pay TV subsidiary of Brazil’s publishing giant Abril.

News recently emerged that four U.S. partners in TVA — among them Falcon Cable and Disney/ABC — are collectively looking to unload their combined 38% stake in the paybox.

However, deals with Murdoch and TVA may be mutually exclusive, since the latter is an investor in GLA.

CEI is already partnered in telephone operations in Brazil with Spain’s TISA and Brazil’s Riogradense phone company.