Colombian Crisis Eases with New Appointment


Bogota, Colombia -- The crisis at the Colombian agency that
is poised to award new cable-TV licenses has been tempered by the appointment of a new
chairman, Alvaro Pava, who said the licenses are his top priority.

Pava was chosen Sept. 17 to head the Colombia National
Television Commission (CNTV), the country's top cable- and television-regulatory
agency, of which he was already a member. His promotion followed the resignation of his
predecessor, Carlos Muñoz, who stepped down as chairman but who continues to serve on the

According to Colombian newspaper El Tiempo, Muñoz
gave up his post in protest over Colombian President Andrés Pastrana's decision
weeks earlier to remove Mónica de Greiff and Jorge Valencia from the CNTV.

Appointed by Colombia's previous administration, the
two commissioners argued that they were wrongfully dismissed and they had not yet
completed their four-year tenures, which were scheduled to end next June. Pastrana
strongly rebuffed the accusations.

The firings sparked widespread controversy because they
were considered contrary to the spirit of Colombian legislation that was designed to
create an independent CNTV, free from political maneuvering.

They also raised the possibility that Colombia's
much-anticipated cable-TV-licensing process would be delayed. The recent crisis at the
CNTV -- which, at one time, also prompted Pava to say that he would resign as a CNTV
member -- occurred while it was reviewing 152 cable-franchise-license proposals.

But according to Pava and Muñoz, that whole process is
right on target. "CNTV technical committees have just finished their evaluation. It
is now up to the commissioners themselves to process the information and make
decisions," Muñoz said, adding that license-winners should be announced, as
scheduled, in early November.

Pava has significant experience in public service. He has
served on Bogota's city council, as a member of Colombia's Senate and as the
country's ambassador to the United Nations. He also belongs to President
Pastrana's Conservative Party.