Zoom in on Mexico

Argos to pierce duopoly with 3rd network

MEXICO CITY — Indie producer Argos will launch its own TV station, breaking the duopoly of Televisa and TV Azteca.

Described as “a third look,” Zoom TV will be available on cable TV, including Cablevision, Televisa’s Mexico City cabler, and on terrestrial TV in the capital. Argos will seek concessions to make Zoom TV a national terrestrial web.

“Zoom TV viewers will be intelligent, not someone to be conned,” said Argos CEO Epigmenio Ibarra, positioning the new station as “the channel of transition.”

Zoom will start with four hours of programming a day, including “Cara o Cruz” (Heads or Tails), the telenovela it produces for U.S. Latino network Telemundo. A formal launch date has yet to be set but test transmissions are already well under way.

Other Argos product, such as Mexico’s all-time box office champ “Sexo, Pudor y Lagrimas” (Sex, Shame and Tears), and the Telemundo docu series “Donde Estas Corazon?” (Where Are You, Darling?) about Mexican immigrants in the U.S., will also air on Zoom.

In addition, Argos will buy quality Spanish and Latin American product to broadcast on Zoom, although the company intends to produce most hours inhouse.

Earlier this year, Argos broke off its successful alliance with TV Azteca, for whom it had produced seven telenovelas in recent years, with Ibarra claiming the relationship was preventing Argos from fulfilling its potential.

Not an immediate threat

Ibarra’s move also ends speculation about where Argos product made for Telemundo will be seen in Mexico. Analysts warned, however, that Argos was unlikely to challenge TV Azteca or Televisa in the near future and the most likely source of terrestrial concessions would be Televisa agreeing to use its own networks to air Zoom TV.

“This is not going to be a major threat while it remains predominantly on cable. It will not be seizing advertising dollars,” said Deutsche Bank’s Rene Pimentel.