The January 30, Argentina launched its first telecommunications satellite, Nahuel I, from the pitcher Arienspace in Kourou, French Guyana, to replace the Nahuel C1. After the government issued regulations airspace, companies of satellite services in the United States formally expressed their disgust at what they see as a protectionist and monopolistic treatment of Nahuelsat SA, a company formed by consortia: local group - BISA (Bember Group ), Banco Provincia, Publicom SA (Telecom Argentina) Antel (Uruguay), regional group GE Capital Global Satellite Inc., Lampenbank International and IFC (World Bank group) and the original consortium of Daimler-Benz of Germany, France Aerospace and Alenia Spazio of Italy. This latter group obtained a license for satellite operations quasi Satellite exclusive airspace until 2007.
Of the total investment of 250 million, including the cost of launching 60 and 80 estimated at millions of dollars, the local group has invested 35.25 million, the regional group 33.75 million and the original consortium 31 million.
Nahuelsat SA The company operates from 1993 using two satellites leased to Canada Telsat which have been already returned to the country after the closure of the company that marketed, Paracome Satellites. Customers Nahuel C1 and C2 have been transferred to Nahuel 1, which transmit data, direct to home television (TDH), telephony and interactivity, band KU through 18 transponders to throughout Latin America from Tierra del Fuego to the south US. Nahuelsat company will make every effort to prevent American satellites over a year ago TDH wish to offer services in Argentina (Galaxy and Sky) may do so independently until the license granted by the Comfer expires. According to the 92 / 97 decree it confirms the resolution 14 / 97, all satellite signals should go down in Argentina and up the Nahuel until that date.
For the executive director of Nahuelsat, Eckart Schober, the measure is not protectionist: "We, Daimler Benz Aerospace and Aerospatiale and Alenia Spazio, won the tender and invest a lot of money at risk to meet the requirements of the Argentine government, which now we demand the protection and rights we deserve. " Schober also explained that they have signed important agreements with telephone and satellite companies to support and expand service applications, including Telecom Argentina, Embratel in Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, and so on. In Mexico, for example, it has signed a cooperation agreement with the Solidarity satellite and Spain with Hispasat for future transmissions in Europe.
"Obviously, after the efforts and investments made by our group, we will demand that everyone who wants to provide services TDH will have to lower the signal in Argentina and meet a number of requirements set by the government, as we do, continues Schober- If any of these companies want to negotiate, we are open. " Nahuel 1 satellite services also provide TDH to Brazil with antennas 50 to 60 centimeters in places where they are using antennas of a meter in diameter. all provinces will also be included regardless of whether they are profitable or not, unlike other projects where only offered highly concentrated populations.
foreign programmers angry
The protest satellite companies has been added foreign programmers enraged by resolution 14 / 97 of the Ministry of Communications and Executive Decree 92 / 97 by which it is required that all programmers who want to transmit their signals via Argentina satellite must have physical and legal presence in the country, according to sources of the Secretariat, could be legally controlled, fined or prosecuted if they violate the laws of Comfer and pay taxes to the Argentine treasury.
Argentine authorities claim that this regulation is a copy of US regulations and must be applied to defend the Argentine rights that previously has been unjustly fined cable companies to transmit adult movies schedule minors, when in reality they have no control on HBO as that send signals or other.
"What happens," says a Comfer source who prefers not to give his name, "is that the programmers want to have 10 parts of the cake and not share with anyone, they are making a lot of money and they have a market with 30 million homes. we ask you to leave part of the cake through taxes and your presence in Argentina and stay with 9, but they do not like this. " The satellites currently operating in Argentina, PanAmSat and Intelsat, will be able to continue operating until the end of their contracts and in some cases when they wish to change bands, they will have to comply with the new regulations. Among those who have signed the official protest are Pan American Satellite Corp., Orion Network Systems Inc. and Columbia Communications Corp.
Like the TDH providers, the local cable companies, the broadcasting associations CADIÁA, ATVC and ATA and the Motion Picture Association also protested. Before so much complaint, the Argentine government promised a revision and reform of some aspects in March; Two months later, nothing has been reformed yet.
Argentine cable is burning
If 1996 was an interesting year for mergers and acquisitions for cable, 1997 promises to be even more interesting with the ambitions of expansion proclaim that all cable companies. Interesting for the year are the creations of two new MSO: Supercanal in the northwest and Mandeville in southern Buenos Aires province. These two existing VCC, CV-TCI and Multicanal, promise a year of unparalleled expansion and competition.
The Holding Supercanal, owned by the Cuban Jorge Mascanosa, and the Group One Mendoza (of Daniel and Fredy Vila brothers) over the 20% of Multicanal (Clarin group), and total about 200.000 subscribers and announced negotiations with other cables. Shortly after the formation of Supercanal, the Hicks Muse Tate & Furst, a US group began investing heavily in 150 radios and other business unrelated to the TV, ending investment in the cable.
The new HM3 Group consortium was then formed with the old cable companies, which were bought by them in the province, the fifth MSO or Mandeville that 250.000 already presumes subscribers, and as its executive director Julio Gutiérrez says, wants to reach the 700.000. So far the cables have been purchased between 600 and 900 per subscriber, a price considered high among specialists.
Multicanal to mention the giant that over the last year bought numerous small and made large investments to be located at the head of the MSO, with over one million subscribers, including its minority interest in others. Multicanal not afraid of newcomers or their economic power, because its intention expansion continues and executives say their financial situation is healthy and powerful. The Comague excable was bought by the owners of Telecom Argentina -the powerful Perez Company and France Telecom both big influential in the world of telecommunications. The cable now called Norcable has not made significant purchases but the big decisions are expected for future mergers.
Finally, there remains the mystery of Cablevision and VCC, which have many without sleep. (See note below). Until this is made public the mystery continues.
They will join two giant cable
Negotiations between the two great Argentine cable TCI Cablevision and VCC (Video Cable Communication) for its close merger, have gone one step further. According to the press Argentina and sources of both companies, has signed a letter of intent between both official for Fred Viera, TCI, buy 39% of VCC to Samuel Liberman.
Institutional affairs directors of both companies told TV & Video Latin America they could not confirm that TCI is a publicly traded company and can not comment until the presidents decide to make public the decision. Liberman, current owner of 50% of the shares of VCC in partnership with the Continental US, which in turn was bought last year by the Baby American Bell US West, would agree with the sale of this percentage of Fintelco, the name the holding company. VCC has about 700.000 subscribers and Cablevision-TCI about 600.000. Together, then, they would form the strongest operator in Argentina.