New Azteca topper

No. 2 Mexican net taps Padilla, reups BVI pact

MIAMI — TV Azteca topper Ricardo Salinas has named longtime protege Pedro Padilla to replace him as CEO, while Salinas will remain chair of Mexico’s No. 2 broadcaster.

Padilla takes over as the company struggles in a slowing economy amid reduced spending on advertising. The company’s revenue in the second quarter fell 6% from a year earlier to $152 million.

Salinas, who’s run TV Azteca since buying it from the government in 1993, said Padilla “has clearly demonstrated an outstanding ability to direct and grow profitably at a major enterprise.”

Padilla, a lawyer, is a former chief exec of Grupo Elektra, the retail chain also controlled by Salinas, where he helped double revs to $1.57 billion since 1994.

Padilla takes over a company that captures about a quarter of the national audience share for television against its only competitor, Grupo Televisa.

In separate news, Buena Vista Intl. has renewed a three-year program-licensing agreement with TV Azteca that gives the broadcaster exclusive free TV rights to BVI’s Disney and non-Disney programming.

Deal covers firstrun and library features from Walt Disney labels Touchstone, Miramax, Hollywood Pictures and Dimension after the normal release sequence, including “Pearl Harbor,” “The Sixth Sense” and “Spy Kids.”

Azteca also will have access to telepics, miniseries and live-action skeins, as well as Disney-branded animated series such as “Buzz Lightyear of Star Command.”

“Disney Club,” a branded weekly show co-produced by Disney and TV Azteca for the past three years, will feature a new format and new animated series. Also part of the agreement is telenovela “Amor a Mil,” a co-production between BVI and Colombia’s Caracol TV.

(Bloomberg contributed to this report.)

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