Mexico City -- Mexico's Grupo Televisa S.A. hopes to
bring its Eco news channel into the black within one year, as it cuts costs and gives the
network a new look, said José Luis Guasch Flores, the channel's new head.
Guasch was brought in from the powerful broadcast side of
Televisa to make the 10-year-old, money-losing channel profitable. Since he assumed his
new post of vice president of channels two months ago -- where he oversees Televisa's
broadcast-TV networks, as well as Eco -- Guasch has been busy.
Guasch said the administrative costs of running Eco's
domestic operations have been reduced to $23 million from $32 million, with more savings
to come. As one part of the cutbacks, the number of Eco newscasters has been reduced to 20
Eco was the brainchild of Emilio Azcárraga Milmo, also
known as "El Tigre," who built Televisa into a formidable media empire at home
and abroad. But since he passed away last year, his son and successor as company chairman,
Emilio Azcárraga Jean, has initiated sweeping changes across the company, including in
On the content side, Eco is undergoing a thorough overhaul
by tapping the resources of some of the largest media organizations in the region. It
recently announced what it dubbed a pan-Latin American alliance with broadcasters in 17
countries, such as Argentina's Telefé, Venezuela's Venevisión and Chile's
Megavisión. Each member of the alliance recently began feeding a daily minimum of 10
minutes of news and general entertainment to Eco.
Televisa recently formed another strategic pay TV alliance.
Late last month, it brought in Grupo Recoletos, a unit of British media company Pearson
plc, to form a joint venture in a new pay TV business-news channel, which, according to
published reports, has been dubbed Expansión Financiera. It will replace Televisa's
existing business-news channel, Conexión Financiera, which bowed more than one year ago
and which is set to close due to high operating costs and management shuffles.
Recoletos should help to ramp up marketing and distribution
of Expansión in Europe. Televisa is already an investor in Spain's Vía Digital
direct-to-home platform, which agreed to merge with rival Canal Satelite Digital last
Guasch said he also hopes to boost Eco's advertising
revenue as the changes take shape. In the past, "we did not have the format to
commercialize the channel and sell advertising," Guasch said. "Now, it has
become a focus."
Wider changes on the pay TV side will continue. Televisa
has established a new layer of executives to focus on and better hone the creative content
of its pay TV channels, and it intends to do the same in distribution, Guasch said.
This could involve creating a separate unit for pay TV
distribution -- a move that would take the job out of the hands of Protele,
Televisa's international-syndication unit, which currently markets Televisa channels
across Latin America.