Televisa expands cable, satcaster

Co. took stakes in two cable companies

MEXICO CITY — Mexican media conglom Grupo Televisa is bolstering its distribution platforms as it holds out for a deal to take an equity stake in U.S. Spanish-language broadcaster Univision.

Televisa exec VP Alfonso de Angoitia said Friday, during a conference call with investors, that the company likely would purchase more cable companies, consolidate operations and possibly spin off a new, publicly-traded cable company.     “We still see the consolidation of the industry as a great opportunity,” de Angoitia said.

Televisa took stakes in two major cable companies earlier this year, and, in partnership with them, bought telcom Bestel, the backbone of a planned national triple-play network.

Web is also preparing to launch a new satellite with Intelsat to bolster coverage in Mexico and Central America. De Angoitia said bird could be up within two years, increasing capacity for HD transmissions to the region.

Satcaster Sky has become Televisa’s second biggest source of revenue behind broadcasting, and Sky is currently expanding in Central America.

Meanwhile, the likelihood of a deal for an equity stake in U.S. Spanish broadcaster Univision may be growing. Webs are headed toward a court date early next year, a legacy of the bad blood between Televisa and Univision’s former owner A. Jerold Perenchio.

De Angoitia spoke almost glowingly during the call about Univision’s new management under CEO Joe Uva — a far cry from the days of cold reprisals from the Mexican web when Perenchio was at the helm.

Univision’s new owners, led by Haim Saban, face a lawsuit by Televisa seeking to break the webs’ programming agreement that supplies Univision with Televisa’s hit prime-time soaps. Televisa feels its being gypped on advertising royalties from its programming, and would rather have an equity stake in the entire operation.

“Any investment would depend on the terms,” de Angoitia said. “They know that Televisa is very important for them. For us, it is a very interesting opportunity.”

Televisa’s broadcasting VP Jose Baston noted telenovela “Distilling Love” became the webs biggest hit since 2000, scoring an average share of nearly 50%.

Web has recently begun a co-production with France of teen telenovela “Codigo Postal” and is preparing to launch a new telenovela starring the winners of its “Looking for the New Timbiriche” reality show. Televisa hopes to repeat success of telenovela “Rebelde” and spin-off music group RBD, which was multi-media merchandising blitzkrieg across the Americas.