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ESPN takes control of Brazil sports net

Pact part of TVA downsizing

RIO DE JANEIRO — ESPN has assumed full control of ESPN Brasil, buying out the 50% stake in the sports channel owned by Tevecap (TVA).

TVA, its affiliated MSOs and Galaxy’s DirecTV will continue to distribute the Sao Paulo-based web in the country.

The companies did not disclose the amounts involved in the deal.

Officials for ESPN, which is controlled by Disney’s ABC, said the company intends to keep the current ESPN Brasil management team.

The agreement is part of TVA’s downsizing effort. In May, the company sold its share in Galaxy Brasil and has gradually abandoned the programming sector — Eurochannel is the only channel currently produced by TVA. Local publishing group Abril owns 62% of the company, Chase Manhattan 8%, Falcon Intl. 12% and Hearst/ABC 17%.

TVA execs said Tevecap, which has 350,000 of Brazil’s 2.7 million subs, will focus on its cable and wireless cable operations and on new services.

ESPN Brasil, launched in mid-1995, is not the country’s leading sports channel. Sportv, a unit of Globo’s pay-TV programming arm Globosat, is the country’s No. 1 sports web, as a result of greater penetration and more soccer rights.

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