Pedro Simoncini: A Broadcasting Pioneer Who Loved Distributing Educational TV Programs.

Author:Serafini, Dom
Position:Int'l TV Distribution Hall of Fame

Pedro Simoncini is known internationally--especially in the U.S. and Argentina--as a broadcasting pioneer. However, his initial ambition was simply to produce and distribute educational TV programs, which he started doing in 1978 in Buenos Aires with Programas Santa Clara. That was around the same time that he started attending MIP-TV, bringing along his little daughter, Karin.

Earlier, in 1964, Simoncini was among the first broadcasters to attend what are now called the L.A. Screenings.

In those years, 1974-1980 specifically, Simoncini also served as president of the Asociacion de Teleradiodifusoras Argentinas, representing the interests of his own TV station, Canal 5, in the city of Rosario (even though his "magic" number has always been n, as in Teleonce), and later, Telefe. But let's first proceed with a prequel.

When "Pietro" Simoncini left his native Naples, Italy, for Argentina in 1924, he was just one year old. His parents decided to return to Naples the following year, but later went back to Argentina, permanently settling in Buenos Aires in 1927. Yet Pietro didn't become an Argentine citizen until 1940 because, as he said, "My parents insisted on remaining Italian. They returned to Naples in 1925 so that they could give birth to my brother in Italy."

At first, it seemed unlikely that fate would lead him to become a pioneer of Argentine TV, succeeding in bringing local TV stations together and creating Telefe--one of the two main TV networks in Argentina--in 1989. But that's exactly what happened.

Let's now jump forward a few years to 1943, to find Pietro, now known as Pedro, employed by Banco Italiano in Buenos Aires and tasked with paying a salary to actress and radio personality Eva Duarte (the future Evita Peron) on behalf of Bulgarian immigrant Jaime Yankelevich (1896-1952), owner of Radio Belgrano. "She would come to my office and I'd authenticate her signature in order for her to collect her salary," Simoncini remembered of Evita.

VideoAge met Simoncini last September at his office, which is located on Avenida Belgrano. "Nowadays, I come to the office just in the mornings, and am always accompanied because I feel unwell, and since last year, I can no longer drive. I never imagined that being old was so hard," he confessed.

Now Simoncini is solely dedicated to the development of educational content, "which has always been my passion," he said. He retired from the commercial TV sector in 1993 to focus on the production of educational programs, and is still an active member of the Academia Nacional de Education.

In the 1940s, Simoncini also took care of the finances and investments of the Order of the Jesuits (Compama de Jesus), which in 1957 decided to apply for a government license to operate a television station. The Jesuit leader, Hector N. Grandinetti of Colegio del Salvador, gathered 120 investors to form the Difusora Contemporanea (DiCon) company, and requested authorization for Canal 13 (one of the seven frequencies made available for the then-nascent private TV sector set up to compete with the state national network, Canal 7) to start up three channels in Buenos Aires and two in Cordoba and Mendoza.

Regular TV broadcast in Argentina had begun in 1951 with Canal 7, which was developed by Radio Belgrano's Yankelevich (and...

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