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New Broadcaster to Shake Up Colombia’s Entrenched TV Establishment

Variety logo Variety 12/1/2016 Anna Marie de la Fuente
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Colombia’s broadcast TV landscape is due for a shakeup next year when a third broadcaster joins the entrenched duopoly of RCN and Caracol TV. Canal Uno is expected to launch by May.

Miami-based Hemisphere Media Group has partnered with former Telemundo Studios head Patricio Wills’ RTI, and Colombian news orgs CMI and NTC to acquire the concession license for a third channel in Colombia. The consortium paid $35 million, 9% over the base price of $31.2 million set by the government for the license, payable in Colombian pesos over a two-year period.

Miami-based Hemisphere Media operates numerous Spanish-language networks in the U.S. and owns Puerto Rico’s dominant TV station, WAPA.

“We have a proven track record of taking underperforming networks and making them best-in-class, including taking WAPA from No. 3 to No. 1 in Puerto Rico in only two years, and maintaining WAPA’s leadership position for eight consecutive years,” said Alan Sokol, president-CEO of Hemisphere Media. Sokol previously was COO of Telemundo from 1998 to 2003.

Asked whether going against two firmly established 18-year old networks in Colombia would be an uphill challenge, he said: “Yes, but that’s only two competitors; Colombia is an under-stationed market,” Sokol said.

“With a population of 50 million, Colombia is one of the largest markets in Latin America; it’s a great production hub, the U.S. dollar goes further here and it’s right in our backyard,” he said. Colombia’s TV ad market is currently valued at $400 million, he added. “We don’t expect to be number one but we think we can carve out a niche for ourselves in the market,” said Sokol.

While details of its programming are still under discussion, Canal Uno will have the advantage of having as partners two reputable news organizations, CMI and NTC, and the most established production company in Colombia, RTI, producer of such hits as “La Reina del Sur,” “Pasion de Gavilanes” and “Dona Barbara.”

“By capitalizing on our proven expertise and unique content offering, Canal Uno’s national broadcast coverage, and the content, expertise and infrastructure of our partners, we are in an excellent position to strengthen Canal Uno’s offering and meaningfully grow its market share,” said Sokol.

NTC, founded in 1977, is among the leading news producers in Colombia, headed by Daniel Coronell, who also pens Aldo, a weekly editorial in Colombia.

Founded in 1991, CMI is led by Yamid Amat, one of Colombia’s most respected journos and news producer. Canal Uno’s operations will be based in CMI’s facilities in Bogota.

In November, Hemisphere Media Group and Lionsgate announced the launch next year of an SVOD movie service for the U.S. Hispanic market. A name has yet to be unveiled.


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