Nets pony up pesos as high-def TV gets OK

HDTV to expand of all of Mexico by 2021

MEXICO CITY — Mexico has released a timetable for establishing national digital, high-definition television signals, a step forward for a government that has been slow to update transmission technology, and a major coming investment for networks.

The office of Secretary of Communication and Transportation (SCT) intends to have digital HDTV in Mexico City, Guadalajara, Monterrey and cities along the U.S. border before the end of 2006, expanding to all of Mexico by 2021.

Televisa and TV Azteca, Mexico’s largest and second-largest nets respectively, are running digital HDTV test signals. Televisa has one in Mexico City and another in Tijuana and has been testing the technology since 1997, while Azteca began test transmissions early this year.

New transmission stations, which will be necessary in some areas, cost about $10 million. The estimated cost for the nationwide update has been put at $3.2 billion.

Industry analysts expect that Mexico will auction licenses to other networks to share space on the HDTV network, a move that will offset some costs for Televisa and Azteca.

Broadcast transmission is by far the most important platform in Mexico, which has very low cable and satellite penetration rates.

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