July 2013
Volume 33 No. 5

May 2013
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The Jornadas of Argentina: Television in South
America is Moving Its Center of Gravity South

Argentina is back on the world stage. Not in London's West End theater district or on New York's Broadway as it was in 1978 and '79 with the musical Evita, but in television's various showcases. Indeed, 2013 is the year of Argentina: First Argentine Pope Francis I was elected, then came the crowning of Princess Maxima of Holland and soon the Jornadas, followed by a focus on Argentina as MIPCOM's country of honor. In fact, among all the Latin American countries, with 10 individual exhibitor stands and a pavilion, Argentina had the largest presence at MIPCOM last year.

The Argentina Association of Cable Television (ATVC) International Conference 2013, or Jornadas Internacionales as it's called in Spanish (“Cable TV Days” would be the English translation), will celebrate its 23rd edition, as well as the 50th anniversary of cable television in Argentina from September 25-27 at the Hilton Buenos Aires.

(Interestingly, 2013 seems also to be the year of 50th anniversary celebrations, starting with NATPE in Miami, MIP-TV in Cannes, the L.A. Screenings in Hollywood and now cable TV in Argentina during the Jornadas in Buenos Aires.)

Over the years, the Jornadas conference and exhibition has moved around. In 2004 it went from the Intercontinental Hotel to the Sheraton Hotel, and in 2007 to the current Hilton Hotel. In 2007 the event also changed its calendar dates, moving from a more convenient November/December spot to a September date, thus conflicting with other trade shows in Europe, such as Prix Italia and MIPCOM, precluding a wider participation.

The Jornadas trade show, geared toward the cable and satellite TV industry, attracts cable and satellite TV operators from Argentina and elsewhere around the world. Content providers, program distributors, production and post-production companies, equipment suppliers, video animation and service companies and TV consultants are among those who are set to attend this fall's event. Confirmed exhibitors include Artear, Claxson, Fox Latin American Channels, TV Azteca, Telefe, Televisa, Turner, HBO, Canal 9 and many more. They will be set up in the exhibition space at Pacifico Hall. Sergio Veiga, president of Argentina's Chamber of Producers and Programmers Audiovisual Signal (CAPPSA) - which organizes the events along with ATVC - noted in a release that “the increasing participation of executives from the region has positioned International Conferences” to see large growth in recent years.

Walter Burzaco, president of ATVC, predicted that a law upheld late last year that rules against monopolies and forced the break-up of Grupo Clarin would be a hot topic.

Grupo Clarin was established in 1997 and includes Clarin newspaper (the most-widely circulated daily in Latin America), cable TV provider Cablevision and TV network ARTEAR (formed in 1989), among other media properties. For its independent reporting, in 2008 Grupo Clarin entered into a conflict with President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. Soon after, the government sanctioned a law to control the media and passed measures to weaken the independent media, such as government-sponsored harassment, de-financing, expropriation of their assets and even reducing the amount of newsprint paper Clarin could buy.

Among other hot topics on the minds of Latin TV executives, Burzaco pointed to: “asymmetric convergence, the real and regulated interconnection with telephone companies, fair regulation that does not impede investment, and the protection of small and medium-sized enterprises.”
Combating piracy continues to be a challenge in the area, “especially of the decoders that can capture signals from DTH satellite services,” said Burzaco. “There is a particular weakness in the coding of some of these services and this ends up undermining the market for legal suppliers of pay television.”

But there are bright sides in the region, too. “Small and medium-sized enterprises have witnessed huge growth in broadband and in investment in digitalization, as part of their ongoing commitment to the community,” said Burzaco. “We hope that new technology providers attend,” he added. “The steady progress in this area and the many services that hybrid fiber coaxial networks can provide allow equipment and software providers to enter into the market in a big way.”