Televisa Fourth-Quarter Earnings Rise

The leading producer of Spanish-language content posted a fourth-quarter profit of $640 million.

MEXICO CITY -- Mexican media giant Televisa on Thursday reported a 4 percent increase in quarterly "operating-segment income," driven by strong programming sales and growth at its pay TV subsidiaries.

The world's leading producer of Spanish-language content posted a fourth-quarter profit of about 8.5 billion pesos ($640 million), thanks in part to royalties earned from programming sold to its U.S. partner, Univision. Televisa earned $273 million in Univision royalties in 2013, a 10 percent increase compared to the previous year.

Televisa-owned satcaster Sky Mexico enjoyed solid sales and saw its subscriber base grow to more than 6 million clients. Between Sky and its numerous cable TV subsidiaries, Televisa corners an estimated 60 percent of Mexico's pay TV market, plus it controls about 70 percent of the broadcast TV market.

Mexico is in the process of implementing telecom and television reform legislation that aims to open both industries to competition. In recent weeks, Televisa and EchoStar-owned Dish Mexico have been embroiled in a dispute over a must-carry, must-offer requirement that allows rival pay TV outfits to air Televisa's broadcast TV channels free of charge. Televisa claims Dish must pay copyright fees to air its channels.

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According to a Maxim Group research report, Televisa stands to lose an estimated 1 billion pesos (about $75 million) in affiliate fee losses should must-carry, must-offer get final approval from regulators, which is expected.

EchoStar chairman Charlie Ergen made the following statement last week regarding Dish's stance on the telecom reform legislation.

"EchoStar trusts that the Mexican government will continue down its current path to ensure that Mexican consumers have the ability to watch free of charge their preferred free broadcast TV channels on any subscription television system they choose," he said. "Through such competitive actions, Mexico will continue to ensure the ongoing development of a level playing field for subscription television providers."

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On the film side, 2013 was an exceptional year for Televisa. Pantelion, Televisa's stateside joint production and distribution venture with Lionsgate, released three big hits last year: Instructions Not Included, Nosotros los Nobles and Pulling Strings. The bilingual comedy Instructions Not Included, released by Televisa in Mexico as well, broke box office records on both sides of the border. Pantelion's Diego Luna-directed biopic Cesar Chavez hits U.S. theaters on March 28.