MADRID — Respected TV vet Jose Antonio Rios, the former CEO of Latin American satcaster Galaxy Latin America (GLA), will replace Arturo Baldesano as president of Telefonica Media on Oct. 1.

Rios joined Spanish telco giant Telefonica in May, taking up an interim appointment as prexy of a newly formed Telefonica unit, Telefonica Media Internacional y de Contenidos.

Consolidated effort

Under Rios, Telefonica Media (which may adopt a different brand name) will group all of Telefonica’s powerful film and TV interests in Spain and Latin America.

In Spain these assets include stakes in Spanish satcaster Via Digital, top film producer/distrib Lolafilms and free-to-air commercial net Antena 3 TV. In Argentina, Telefonica co-owns cable operator Cablevision and top broadcasters Telefe and Azul Television.

Telefonica wields huge clout: Profits for the Telefonica group as a whole rose 73% in the first half of 1999 to $1 billion. In May it claimed a $650 million budget for film and TV investment in Latin America.

Dual hurdles

The challenges facing Rios include how to create true synergies in the new company and how to resolve whether Telefonica Media will continue its TV and telco partnership in Latin America with U.S. investor Hicks, Muse, Tate & Furst.

Telefonica Media will be officially presented at October’s Mipcom TV market. Stock in part of the restructured company will be offered on Spain’s stock exchange in the first half of 2000, Telefonica prexy Juan Villalonga announced in July.