News Corp. consolidates Latin American DTH operations

MUMBAI: The DirecTV Group and Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation announced yesterday that they are consolidating their pay platforms in Latin America through a series of deals with Grupo Televisa, Globopar and Liberty Media. Hence, in total, DirecTV is shelling out $579 million in cash for equity stakes in the Sky platforms in the region.

In Brazil, Sky Brasil owned by Globo, News Corp. and Liberty Mediaand DirecTV Brasil will merge and DirecTV Brasil customers will migrate to Sky Brasil. DirecTV will acquire News Corp.'s and Liberty Media's stakes in Sky Brasil, owning a total of 72 per cent of the merged company. Globo will own the remaining 28 per cent, and will continue to be the lead supplier of Brazilian programming to the platform. The transaction is subject to regulatory approval by the Brazilian government. As of 30 June, 2004, there were approximately 423,000 DirecTV customers in Brazil. Sky Brasil had approximately 806,000 customers, informed an official release.

In Mexico, the DirecTV affiliate Galaxy Mexico will close its operations and sell its subscriber list to Sky Mexico. DirecTV customers in Mexico will be offered the opportunity to migrate to Sky Mexico. The DirecTV Group will acquire News Corp.'s interest in Sky Mexico and jointly with Televisa will purchase Liberty Media's interest. The merged platform will be 57 per cent owned by Televisa and 43 per cent by DirecTV. As of June 2004, DirecTV Mexico had 266,000 subscribers and Sky had 940,000.

In Colombia and Chile, Sky customers will migrate to DirecTV, with The DirecTV Group acquiring the interests of Globo, Televisa, News Corp. and Liberty Media in Sky Multi-Country Partners. DirecTV will then own 100 per cent of Sky Multi-Country and Sky customers in Colombia and Chile, where Sky has about 89,000 subscribers. The DirecTV DTH platform for Colombia and Chile will also be operated in Argentina, Venezuela, Puerto Rico, the Caribbean and the rest of Latin America, under the newly-created "PanAmericana" platform, added the release.

Following the acquisition of the Sky Multi-Country business, the PanAmericana platform will have approximately 938,000 subscribers.

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