From July 26--29, the Argentine Association for Cable TV (ATVC) held-its 10th cable Jornadas (meetings). This year's event involved the participation of representatives from major equipment, programming and services companies. Once again, the conference reflected the general conditions of the sector, including the plight of small- and medium-sized independent companies as they face the challenges of providing new services, incorporating state-of-the-art technology and facing new competitors without the benefit of substantial capital.
As for Argentina's general situation, there is ample evidence of a recession. High unemployment is just one of the consequenses resulting from the Asian and Latin American market crises. The recession has impacted exports, deepened foreign trade debt and increased the fiscal deficit (the latter because of a lack of restrictions on public spending and the high incidence of tax evasion). On top of all this, there is the October presidential elections, in which the candidates have acknowledged the importance of the Argentinean cable industry.
Regarding the sector's specific changes during the course of the past two years, the cable industry has undergone a period of consolidation. More than 70 percent of the 5 million subscribers are now with one of four MSOs. Out of these 3.5 million subscribers, two MSOs can lay claim to more than 80 percent of these customers, thus drastically changing the equation. Such changes have been further highlighted with the ownership by foreign investors, whose shares tend to be widely mobile.
Cable television in Argentina penetrates more...