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TV Azteca’s new U.S. affiliates add auds

Latino b'caster ups presence to 29 markets

MEXICO CITY — TV Azteca, Mexico’s second-largest broadcaster, has added three U.S. affiliates to its Azteca America division, upping coverage to two-thirds of U.S. Latino households.

In separate news, the net said its board approved a spinoff of its large stakes in telco Unefon and WiFi provider Cosmofrequencias.

Addition of Chicago’s WOCK, WTBD Charleston, S.C., and WDGA Chattanooga, Tenn., ups Azteca America’s presence to 29 U.S. markets.

The Chicago outlet plugs a gaping hole in the 2-year-old net’s coverage; with 400,000 Hispanics, Chicago is the fifth-largest such market in the U.S.

Azteca America already has affils in Los Angeles, New York, Miami and Houston, which have the nation’s biggest Latino viewing audiences.

Earlier this year, Azteca said it hoped to gain footholds in 75% of the U.S. Hispanic markets by the fourth quarter of this year.

The bulk of Azteca America’s programming comes directly from its Mexico City parent, although many shows bow in the U.S. a month or more after they do in Mexico.

The broadcaster is still far behind U.S. market leaders Univision and Telemundo, which respectively cover 97% and 91% of U.S. Hispanic markets.

Telecom spinoffs

Azteca’s spinoff of its 46.5% share in cellular telco Unefon and 50% share in wireless broadband provider Cosmofrequencias separates Azteca entirely from its varied telecom investments.

“We developed a mechanism that will return TV Azteca to a pure-play media company,” CEO Pedro Padilla said.

In Thursday, trading on the New York Stock Exchange, TV Azteca shares rose 24¢ , to $8.20 per share, a 52-week high. GN UPDATED AT 6:05 P.M. ET

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