Fox Sports Americas to launch in Latin America

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BUENOS AIRES -- Prime Deportiva will relaunch on November 1 as Fox Sports Americas with split signals targeting four Spanish speaking markets, a new on--air look and new programming.

The strategy should help spur the channel's growth in markets where it has been struggling against local and pan-regional competition. Jointly owned by News Corporation and TCI International Inc., the Spanish-language sports channel will be banking heavily on the power of the Fox brand name and logo, sinking $1m into an advertising campaign to support the relaunch, the company says.

In probably its most aggressive move, Fox Sports Americas will be divided into split feeds targeting four separate Spanish--speaking markets. Its Northern Latin America feed will cover Mexico, Central America, Colombia and Venezuela, while a Southern Latin America feed will cover Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay. The U.S. Spanish--speaking market will have a dedicated signal and Brazil will have a Portuguese--language feed.

Fox Sports Americas has also embarked on a campaign to acquire the rights to events which have high appeal in the Latin American region.

Some of the channel's highly promoted events in the past, such as U.S. major league baseball, have had little draw in markets like Argentina, which accounts for about 40% of all Latin American pay TV homes but has only one international quality baseball field.

"This should immediately put us at a much higher level," Fox Sports Americas V--P and General Manager Richard Battista told the Daily World Wire. The company's first Latin acquisition is a handful of rights from Torneos y Competencias (TyC), an Argentine sports producer and programmer 35% owned by TCI.

The purchase, which company officials would only describe as long term and exclusive, lets Fox Sports Americas tap into a virtual monopoly on Argentine soccer rights held by TyC and one of its parent companies, Grupo Clarin. From January 1, Fox Sports Americas will air Futbol de Primera, a weekly soccer highlights show, and Torneo de Verano, a summer professional soccer tournament, throughout Latin America. Clasico del Domingo, a weekly series of professional soccer matches, will be aired outside Argentina, along with TyC's cable channel.

Copyright October 1996, Crain Communications Inc.

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