Argentine media group Grupo Clarin has begun the process of consolidating its majority-owned cable TV and broadband internet operations, reports BNamericas quoting local newspaper La Nacion. Cablevision, the country’s largest provider of cable internet services, will absorb the operations of sister cableco Multicanal, (the second biggest cable modem access provider), the latter said in a note to the Buenos Aires stock exchange. Other smaller cable TV operators to be absorbed by Cablevision as part of the merger include Pampa TV, Delta Cable, Holding Teledigital, Teledigital Cable, Televisora La Plata, Construred and Cablespot.
In December 2007 Argentina’s antitrust agency CNDC approved the merger of Multicanal and Cablevision, under the plan of the cablecos’ then respective owners Grupo Clarin and US investment fund Fintech, which involved some USD1.1 billion in share swaps. According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms database, both Cablevision and Multicanal (Flash) are owned by Grupo Clarin (60%) and Fintech (40%), but have continued to operate as separate brands since their merger plan was originally agreed in September 2006. Cablevision launched internet services via cable modem in August 1997, before hiving off its ISP business into a separate unit, FiberTel. Multicanal provides internet connections via its subsidiary PRIMA and ISPs Fullzero, Ciudad Internet and Flash. GlobalComms notes that Cablevision plans to launch voice telephony services by the first quarter of 2009, whilst Multicanal is also in the process of upgrading fibre-optic infrastructure with a view to offering triple-play services.
Elsewhere, Argentina’s national statistics institute Indec said that at the end of September, there were 9.35 million fixed lines installed in the country, an increase of 1.5% compared to a year earlier. Public payphones totaled 160,700, an increase of 7.6% year-on-year, whilst there were 44.9 million active mobile connections, up 18.1% compared to the same date in 2007.