Sao Paulo, Brazil -- Even religious leaders are moving
into Brazil's crowded direct-to-home satellite TV business. The country's evangelical
leader, Edir Macedo, has secured a Ku-band direct-to-home license through his broadcast
company, TV Record.
That project joins a host of other contenders. Last month,
news broke that U.S.-based DTH provider EchoStar Communications Corp. had joined forces
with a local partner, K-TV, to launch a DTH service in August, while Brazilian C-band
equipment-manufacturer Tecsat plans to launch its own service, too. A further DTH licensee
is waiting in the wings: Holms, a joint venture between publishing house Editora Tres and
FM-radio network Antena 1.
Little is known about the TV Record project. Industry
observers said it will use Tecsat decoders, leading to rumors that these two DTH newcomers
will join forces, although both parties have denied this.
TV Record is Brazil's fourth-largest broadcast network,
owned by Macedo, who made his fortune preaching the gospel of his church, Igreja Universal
do Reino de Deus, first in Brazil and later in the United States, the former Soviet Union
The success of TV Record, EchoStar and Tecsat will depend
on the competitive environment, where takeovers and mergers appear likely. Newcomers face
two heavyweight panregional DTH platforms -- DirecTv and Sky Latin America -- which,
between them, have more than 250,000 subscribers in Brazil. And the country's
unpredictable cable-licensing process must also be factored in.
"Programming will be a strong differential, and the
better [portion] of it is in the hands of Sky and DirecTv. Getting market share will be a
very hard task," commented Orlando Vallone of satellite-consultancy company De Santi