Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., which already reaches more people in the world than any other media company, is expected to announce today plans for delivering television services across Latin America.
According to media analysts, Murdoch will announce that he has formed a joint venture with the Globo network, Brazil's largest producer of programming, and Mexico's Grupo Televisa, the world's leading creator of Spanish-language programming.
The Latin American joint venture has been in the works for months. It is believed to stem from a venture News Corp. formed this summer with Globo called Netsat to deliver television service to Latin American homes via satellite dish.
News Corp. is to disclose the plans at today's news conference in New York.
Murdoch recently told a conference of advertising executives in Sao Paulo, Brazil, that News Corp. would spend as much as $500 million with Globo to launch the Netsat satellite service by March. He predicted the partners could have 4.5 million subscribers within several years, surpassing the 3 million customers of his BSkyB satellite service in Britain.
Yet analysts note that the Latin American market is less developed than Britain's and say the venture is more comparable to Murdoch's experience in Asia with StarTV, which analysts say has been living off modest advertising revenues as it builds subscriptions.
"Star lost $80 million last year," one analyst said. "You just don't have the infrastructure in China--the cable subscribers, the retail stores that sell dishes--that you do in Britain." He said the Latin American venture would take eight to 10 years to become profitable. "The battle today is in putting down stakes for the future," the analyst said. "This is one part of the world where Murdoch doesn't have a footprint." Indeed, although he lacks reach in Japan and Continental Europe, Murdoch's Fox television network in the United States surpasses CBS Inc. in reaching key demographic groups. BSkyB reaches Britain, and Star beams to the Pacific Basin, the Middle East and India.
News Corp. has some roots in Latin America. In 1993, it formed El Canal Fox, which delivers Fox movies and television programs dubbed in Spanish and Portuguese to roughly 3 million homes.
The new venture could combine this programming with that of Globo, Grupo Televisa and a global sports venture NewsCorp. formed recently with Liberty Media Corp., the programming arm of leading cable company Tele-Communications Inc.
"Malone is in on this, too," a source close to News Corp. said in reference to John Malone, the chief executive of Tele-Communications.