Sao Paulo, Brazil -- The No. 2-ranking official at
Brazil's Communications Ministry, Juarez Quadros, last week replaced his former boss,
Sergio Motta, who is gravely ill.
Since the second week of this month, Motta, the former head
of the ministry, has been in the intensive-care unit of Albert Einstein Hospital here,
where he is being treated for lung disease. It is the first time that Brazil's government
has publicly recognized Motta's leave of absence due to ill health, although he has had a
long history of aliments, including high blood pressure and diabetes.
The cable industry -- although recognizing Motta's strong
leadership, and particularly his negotiating talents -- does not seem too worried about
the changes. "The licensing process will go on as scheduled ... The rules of the game
are established, and I don't see why anyone would expect major changes now," said
Alexandre Annenberg, director of TVA Network, a division of leading Brazilian MSO TVA.
Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso announced the
ministry shuffle last week, at the same time summoning Luiz Carlos Mendonça de Barros,
president of the national development bank, Banco Nacional do Desenvolvimento Econômico
(BNDES), to coordinate the privatization of the country's state-owned telecommunications
business, including telco Telecomunicaçoes Brasileiras S.A., which is expected to occur
Motta was diagnosed with lung disease almost 10 years ago,
but his condition worsened when he contracted a bacterial lung infection that doctors
later found came from the air-conditioning system in his office. It is unclear how long he
will be hospitalized, but sources at the hospital said his recovery period is long-term.