Addressing Issues in Argentina Is TAP's Business.
To address some of these issues, programmers serving the region formed a trade association in 1995 to serve Latin American needs: the Television Association of Programmers, Latin America -- more commonly known as TAP Latin America.
Regulation covering multichannel television is still in a period of development in Argentina as well as throughout Latin America, as governments begin to address the need to accommodate a growing broadband environment.
The Argentine government proposed a system that would require programmers to pay a monthly fee and subject the content of their programs to government review to ensure adherence to certain cultural requirements. The local operators proposed this alternative as a way to avoid the liability of inappropriate programming.
However, in order to avoid government regulation of content, TAP crafted a compromise with the Argentine Cinematography Council (ACC) and the Argentine Cable Television Association (ATVC). The local cable operators' association submits their program schedules monthly to ATVC with an indication of the ratings assigned to them in the country of origin. ATVC then passes the schedule along to ACC. For purposes of ratings classification, TAP members adopted the system created by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) in the U.S.
TAP also took an aggressive position against an Argentine tax on all forms of intellectual copyrights, including pay TV and electronic commerce. In addition to announcing its position in Buenos Aires, TAP's legal counsel briefed the U.S. Trade Representative and Commerce Depart-ment in preparation for bi-lateral meetings that addressed the issues during Argentine President Menem's visit. TAP received a written pledge from the Argentine Minister of Economy, Roque Fernandez, not to enforce the provision of the tax code that would "impose duties on services or intellectual property rights in the future."
Up until three years ago, there was no audience measurement system in Latin America. TAP has been very involved in working with IBOPE International to develop such a system. Because cable has only recently been recognized by the local ratings authorities in each country, it will be some time before there is a reliable cable sampling in Latin America. Most of the samples are currently clustered in urban areas, and therefore do not include the entire picture. While TAP has publicly expressed concern about the credibility of the current ratings coming out of Argentina and Mexico, it believes that it is just a matter of time before programmers, operators and advertisers have a useful tool to measure cable audiences.
In Argentina, TAP is beginning a relationship with the local technical committee that monitors audience measurement -- the Comision de Control de Medicion de Audencia (CCMA). TAP and the CCMA are exploring cooperation on joint industry audits and hope to exchange points of view.
Mary Pittelli is president of TAP Latin America.