NBC plays loan ranger

GE Capital offers $5 mill to sagging indie

NBC may be fixing to settle old scores with Mexico’s No. 2 net, TV Azteca, by swooping in to rescue a tiny Mexican web.

GE Capital has loaned $5 million to ailing indie Canal 40, which has been off-air since May, when workers went on strike to demand three months’ unpaid wages.

Now Mexico’s version of the FCC has asked the nation’s securities regulator to examine whether there is any business arrangement tied to the loan that would violate laws forbidding ownership of TV or radio concessions by foreigners.

The loan sparked local speculation that GE-owned NBC is looking to gain a foothold for its Spanish-lingo net Telemundo via Canal 40.

Brandon Burgess, NBC’s exec VP of international channels and business development, was reported to have been in talks with government officials last week. He was unavailable for comment.

TV Azteca has been fighting since 2000 to enforce an option to take a 51% share in Canal 40 that came out of a soured shared production and advertising deal.

In 1994, NBC formed a partnership with then-fledgling TV Azteca to provide programming and advisory support. But the deal ended up in the courts, with NBC seeking $130 million but settling for $46.2 million.

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