MALAGA — In a further exec change at Spanish conglom Admira, journalist Ernesto Saenz de Buruaga has been named managing director and effective numero uno of Spanish commercial broadcaster Antena 3.

Antena 3 is controlled by Admira, the media subsid of telco giant Telefonica. Saenz de Buruaga, who replaces Luis Velo, directed and presented Antena 3’s primetime newscast, “Noticias 2.”

Appointment is part of a complex game of political chess being played across Admira as Spain’s ruling conservative party prepares to choose a replacement for its leader and Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar.

Telefonica prexy Cesar Alierta is an associate of one candidate, economics minister Rodrigo Rato.

Saenz de Buruaga is Aznar’s closest adviser on media affairs. His promotion is interpreted as a move by Aznar to promote his preferred candidate, Jaime Mayor Oreja.

With no managerial experience, Buruaga needs beginner’s luck. Antena 3 has just paid a reported €43 million ($37.7 million) for rights to select 2002 World Cup soccer matches. Ad revenues look flat for 2002, which means Saenz de Buruaga’s major challenge is to avoid becoming the first Antena 3 boss since the mid-’90s to oversee a full-year net loss.