Cisneros Television Group could emerge as a powerful player
in the Latino music-television market following its purchase of HTV last week, observers
said. The buy came just two months after CTG acquired MuchMusic Argentina.
"[The Cisneros family] could be a real new force in
music TV. They are Venezuelan, so they know the region, and they have gathered the right
expertise around them," said Bruno del Granado, a free-lance music-TV producer and
former vice president of music and talent at MTV Latin America.
The family hails from Caracas, although CTG, its
program-network group, is based in Miami and headed by Carlos Cisneros.
Internationally distributed HTV, with more than 6 million
subscribers, concentrates mainly on music videos, and it features traditional Latin genres
such as salsa, merengue and cumbia.
The purchase adds a regional element to CTG's budding
music strategy. Its January deal for MuchMusic Argentina included the rights to develop
MuchMusic franchises across Latin America and the Iberian peninsula with ChumCity
ChumCity International's parent company, Toronto-based
Chum Ltd., originally created the MuchMusic concept.
CTG and ChumCity International are eyeing Brazil and Spain
as possible markets for MuchMusic franchises, although there has been no official decision
on where the next launch will take place, said Stephen Tap, ChumCity International's
vice president and general manager.
It is not only the variety of Latin music that CTG has
added to its current stable of 11 channels -- either wholly or partially owned -- that
observers see as its strength: The company can also draw on its vast distribution assets
to market its new acquisitions.
CTG's parent company, Cisneros Group of Cos., is an
investor in Galaxy Latin America, which operates panregional direct-to-home platform
DirecTV in Latin America. GLA, in turn, owns a stake in Spanish DTH service Via Digital.
HTV will have much better distribution now due to
Cisneros' "powerful relationships," said Daniel Sawicki, who founded the
channel with Robert Behar.
At the same time, Tapp said, Cisneros is the best partner
to take the MuchMusic services to the next level.