Costa Rica first in Televisa sat expansion

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MEXICO CITY -- Mexican media conglomerate Televisa on Tuesday said its satellite TV unit is set to expand international operations in Nicaragua, Panama and the Dominican Republic following a recent launch in Costa Rica.

Last week's Costa Rica launch marked the first time that Televisa has entered a foreign market with its satcaster Sky. Innova, the parent company of Sky Mexico, is majority owned by Televisa. The DirecTV Group holds the remaining 41% stake.

Televisa executive vp Alfonso de Angoitia told analysts in a Tuesday conference call that Sky will bow in Nicaragua shortly and should begin operating in Panama and the Dominican Republic by year's end.

When DirecTV announced in 2004 that it was ceasing operations in Mexico, the DirecTV Group entered into a series of agreements with Innova. Among the deals, Sky Mexico was given the option to exploit the DTH business in various markets in Latin America and the Caribbean. Other territories included in the agreement are Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Belize, Haiti and Cuba.

Sky, Mexico's sole satcaster, has nearly 1.5 million subscribers. De Angoitia expects the new markets to contribute to Sky's rapid growth as Televisa explores options outside Mexico.

"We believe we will be able to add 100,000 subscribers in the following years," he said.

Sky Mexico represents 20% of Televisa's consolidated sales, making it the media giant's No. 2 revenue generator behind the broadcast television unit.

De Angoitia says the business is performing so well that Sky Mexico is generating $600,000 of free cash flow every day.
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