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TV in Latin countries tied to the political knot: Antola.

"In Latin America, more than in other countries, television is married to the political situation," said Livia Antola of Visicom, a distribution company specializing in Latin American territories. "When something happens in Peru, for instance, no one is thinking of buying [TV programs]. Recent examples are the scandal involving President Mellor in Brazil and the coup attempt in Venezuela. It makes the whole market unstable."

"You sign a contract - then everything can change. It can be tough to collect payment," said Antola. "It is a growing market, but I prefer to be conservative in my estimates. I don't like to overemphasize that there's an incredible boom and all this activity, because people will think |Oh, it's an explosion, the prices are going up.' They think the territories are going to be paying a lot for pay-TV movies - but the territories still have a small subscriber base and they pay according to the number of their subscribers. And it seems there's always one country you can't count on every year, because of a coup or inability to pay."

The development of cable and satellite television will further open up the market, Antola said, but she also admitted that Latin America is in the process of adapting to the changes. "The free-TV stations don't like pay-TV because of the setbacks. At this NATPE, we're selling for broadcast in 1994 - free TV must wait until 1995 for the same shows. We must learn how to sell our product without alienating our traditional buyers. In the U.S., these new windows have been around longer, and everyone is used to the progression; pay-per-view, cable, network, then syndication. The cable and satellite systems are added revenue, but is it a good thing? I don't know. Free-TV is trying to protect its turf, and it can't be blamed for that. Cable is affecting their business."

Antola said that the role of television in Latin American countries is different from anywhere else in the world. "In a place where most people don't read the newspapers, television is very important. People identify with their stations. They love their stations - almost like a personal relationship. Once I was visiting a station that had recently had a fire. The cab driver who took me there was very upset about it. He kept asking me if anyone had been hurt and what the damage was. Latin American audiences love their television, and they love their announcers; They participate in the game shows, and they write letters to the stations. I hope that cable and all these other options won't destroy that. Television is their window to the world."
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Title Annotation:A World of Hispanic TV; Livia Antola
Publication:Video Age International
Article Type:Interview
Date:Jan 1, 1993
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