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The second annual Latin American satellite and cable TV viewership survey, out this month, offers a window to the world's fastest-growing multichannel TV market. The survey defines multichannel homes as those receiving more than just broadcast TV. (More statisical data on Latin America, page I-20.)

Between 1995 and 2005, the number of these Latin American homes is projected to grow by 96%, ahead of Asia, with a 79% growth rate forecast. In the U.S., such homes are expected to rise by 68% and in Western Europe by 31%.

In Latin America, the multichannel TV audience covered in the study "Los Medios y Mercados de Latinoamerica 1996" are more affluent, better educated, and buy more consumer goods than their peers living in traditional broadcast homes.

Multinational marketers in Latin America often complain about a lack of useful data to help them identify and target consumers who can afford their products.

The survey by TAP Latin America, a consortium of international cable networks, agencies and publishers, was carried out by written questionnaires between September and November 1995 in 19 countries and included 5,910 people aged 12 to 64. For the first time, a special children's survey was included covering behavior including TV viewing.

According to the survey, 57% of all multichannel residences own at least one car, compared to just 36% of households receiving only terrestrial TV channels.

They also come from more sophisticated backgrounds. About 16% of people living in multichannel homes have credit cards, compared with only 10% in all TV homes. An estimated 9% are professionals or hold managerial positions, and 8% make business decisions in their everyday lives.

That sophistication is also reflected in personal possessions. About 67% of multichannel TV homes have a telephone; 61%, a VCR; 74%, a washing machine; 32%, a dryer; 21%, a microwave oven; and 15%, an air conditioner.

Those figures are high compared to regular TV homes. There, 39% own phones; 35%, a VCR; 45%, a washing machine; 8%, a dryer; 12%, a microwave; and 9%, an air conditioner.

Multichannel TV viewers are also better educated. Almost twice as many heads of household-52%-have graduated from high school, compared to 28.7% in regular TV homes. And 19% are college graduates, next to only 8.6% of heads of household in nonmultichannel homes.

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