TV Data to Ally With Brazil Partner

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Sao Paulo, Brazil-Electronic-program guide competition in Latin America is heating up, with U.S.-based TV Data set to form a partnership to enter the Brazilian market.

The company, which provides pay-TV programming data in the U.S. and 21 markets abroad, inked the pact with Editora Zen, a local company that publishes programming guides for TVA, Brazil's No. 2 MSO.

Editora Zen also operates a Web site, Tudo no Ar (www.tudonoar.com.br), which features information on pay-TV programming.

TV Data and Editora Zen will each own half of the joint venture, to be called TV Data Zen. The aim: to provide pay TV operators with content and applications for on-screen programming guides and Web sites, as well as content and services for printed guides.

TV Data Zen also plans to sell pay TV programming information to local newspapers, and to target wireless phone and handheld computer users.

"We have negotiated for about 10 months and will sign an agreement this month," said Editora TV Data Zen president Jose Eduardo Mendonça. The company signed its first two clients in September, at the ABTA media and telecommunications trade show here.

Those clients are wireless-cable operator TV Filme-owned by U.S. investment funds and the local Albuquerque family-and TV Show, a Northeastern Brazil cable operator owned by UnitedGlobalCom Inc.

For now, TV Data Zen will not compete with global EPG giant Gemstar-TV Guide International Inc., which has operations throughout much of Latin America, but not yet in Brazil.

"TV Data picked an excellent partner in Brazil," noted Bill Barry, general manger of Gemstar-TV Guide's Latin American business.

Barry's company plans to enter Brazil in the near future, but without a local partner.

"At TV Guide we have a different focus, although we are perceived as competitors," said Barry. "We don't do data sales; we generate data for our own use.

"Our interactive programming guide business is geared towards digital platforms. Analog will follow, rather than lead it."

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