Dish eyes expansion to Mexico

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MEXICO CITY -- In a move that would inject competition into Mexico's satellite TV industry, Dish Network is in talks to enter the market with a Mexican partner.

Mexican media company MVS Comunicaciones, which operates pay TV system MVS, confirmed that it is in negotiations with the Charles Ergen-founded U.S. satellite giant.

A pay TV industry source said Tuesday that it appears that the negotiations are in an advanced stage and that at least one channel operator already has begun discussing a potential carriage agreement with the new venture.

Should Dish crack the Mexican market, it would go head to head with Sky Mexico, which is majority owned by Mexico City-based media giant Televisa.

There also has been speculation that Grupo Pegaso, a Mexican consortium with interests in telecommunications and media content, could partner with Dish.

Grupo Pegaso vp Alejandro Orvananos said last year that his company plans to have a satellite TV operator up and running some time this year. Private-equity firms in Mexico and the U.S. are backing Pegaso on a $150 million investment over a three-year period. Orvananos declined comment about which investment firms are on board. He was not immediately available for comment Tuesday.

Media ownership restrictions here require foreign companies to team with Mexican firms.

Sky Mexico emerged as the nation's sole satellite TV provider after DirecTV announced in 2004 that it was ceasing operations here. The DirecTV Group, now controlled by Liberty Media, back then entered a series of agreements with Innova, the parent company of Sky Mexico, which included a deal to sell DirecTV's subscriber base to Televisa.

Many former DirecTV clients complained that they had no choice but to migrate to Sky Mexico after the company folded.

As of year's end, Sky had nearly 1.6 million subscribers. Sky Mexico is Televisa's No. 2 revenue generator behind its broadcast television unit.

Dish officials did not return calls seeking comment.
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