Spanish telco giant Telefónica S.A. plans to attack the
U.S. media market and advance its interests across Latin America, and it appointed an
industry veteran last week to lead the charge.
The company named José Antonio Ríos its new corporate
general manager. In this role, Ríos will be responsible for Telefónica's media and
cable business in Latin America; the development of audiovisual and Internet content; and
the exploration of new business opportunities in the multimedia sector in the United
States, the company said.
Ríos, who resigned his post as president and CEO of
direct-to-home platform Galaxy Latin America last week, couldn't be reached for
Industry analysts said the appointment was a strong
confirmation of Telefónica's corporate goal of becoming a full-fledged multimedia
"It points to the growing importance of the content
side of Telefónica's business -- that it is not just a voice and data company, but a
broadband collaborator. You need someone with a separate business plan with a broader
mandate," Banque Paribas media analyst John Graves said.
"Over a year ago, Telefónica said its vision in Latin
America was no longer just telephony, but a multimedia vision," added William
Beavington, another Paribas media analyst.
Ríos' role expands from a Latin American focus to
include the United States. He reports to Telefónica vice president Javier Revuelta.
Currently, Telefónica's sole investment in the United
States is an 18 percent stake in Internet-service provider Infonet Services Corp., a
Telefónica spokesman said.
In Latin America, Telefónica is considered a leader in
cable-telephony convergence, with extensive investments in telephone and cable companies.
Its international unit owns stakes in major telcos in
Brazil, Chile, Peru, Puerto Rico, Venezuela and Argentina. On the cable side, it has
invested in MSOs CableVisión/TCI2 of Argentina, Peru's Cable Mágico and