|Mexico City, Mexico|
|Branding||Proyecto 40 (Proyecto Cuarenta)|
|Slogan||Proyecto 40: Activa tu mente (Project 40: Activate your mind)|
|Channels||Analog: 40 (UHF)
Digital: 26 (UHF)
Virtual: 40 (PSIP)
(Televisora del Valle de México, S.A. de C.V.)
|Call letters' meaning||XH
|Former callsigns||XHEXI-TV (1991-93)|
|Former affiliations||CNI (1995-1998, 2003-2005)
TV Azteca (1998-2000 and December 2002-January 2003)
|Transmitter power||1,535.98 kW (analog)
71.4 kW (digital)
(digital, on the XHIMT-TV/XHDF-TV tower)
XHTVM-TV channel 40, is the flagship television station for Proyecto 40 in Mexico City, owned by Televisora del Valle de México and operated by TV Azteca in Mexico City. Programming generally consists of news, informational and entertainment shows.
Concession, sign-on and early years
On July 28, 1991, the Diario Oficial de la Federación announced that channel 40 in Mexico City was open to be a commercial television station. The new station would have its transmitter located on Cerro del Chiquihuite, and it would have an effective radiated power of 5,000 kW. The availability of a new television station in Mexico City, for the first time in decades, attracted high-powered media companies aspiring to enter the television business. Of 18 total applicants, 10 qualified for the concession for the new television station. Among the competitors were Francisco Aguirre Gómez of Grupo Radio Centro, Rafael Cutberto Navarro of Radio Cadena Nacional, Grupo Siete Comunicación, and other owners of radio stations.
Televisora del Valle de México S.A. (Broadcaster of the Valley of Mexico), a company 95% owned by Javier Moreno Valle and 5% by Hernán Cabalceta, received the concession to operate a television station on channel 40 on September 23, 1991, with the callsign XHEXI-TV. The station was initially licensed for an effective radiated power of 5,000 kW. While it was stated at the time that channel 40 would go on the air in the first half of 1992, test transmissions did not begin until December 5, 1994, at which time the station had changed callsigns to XHTVM-TV. XHTVM was the first new television station in Mexico City since XHTRM-TV took to the air in 1982, and the first new commercial station since 1968. XHTVM signed on for good on June 19, 1995, with landscape videos set to classical music. Soon after, actual programming began under the name CNI Canal 40, "CNI" being an acronym for Corporación de Noticias e Información (News and Information Corporation). As CNI, XHTVM concentrated on news and discussion programming, along with some general entertainment shows and infomercials. Its association with the new Telenoticias network gave it access to Telenoticias's 123 correspondents and 400 reporters around the world.
In 1996, CNI moved its staff to the 40th and 41st floors of the World Trade Center Mexico City. CNI secured the facilities after eight months of negotiations. The contract allowed CNI to rent for 10 years and then buy the facility at a cost of $12 million.
In 1997, CNI faced a boycott from major advertisers when it aired a story investigating the evidence against Father Marcial Maciel, founder of the Legion of Christ movement. The Legionaries refused to comment but, according to Moreno Valle, "started pressing through every channel they could" in an attempt to keep the story off the air. Roberto Servitje, part of the family controlling Grupo Bimbo, called for a boycott of the station, as did the powerful Monterrey businessman Alfonso Romo. Moreno Valle also received a call from a friend of his at Televisa. This situation partially soured XHTVM's ability to garner advertisers in the long run.
The CNI-Azteca deal and the beginning of the conflict
On July 29, 1998, CNI partnered with TV Azteca, becoming "Azteca 40", TV Azteca's third station. Under this partnership, CNI would carry programming provided by TV Azteca, including its news and entertainment programming, while TV Azteca sold the advertising time; Azteca loaned CNI $40 million. On September 1, Azteca took over programming almost all of XHTVM's broadcast day, while CNI produced the 9:30pm-midnight time slot, featuring CNI Noticias, the station's flagship newscast with Ciro Gómez Leyva and Denisse Maerker. The contract allowed Azteca to buy 51% of XHTVM if the deal were to be broken.
Briefly in 1999, Azteca secured a contract with MVS Comunicaciones to broadcast MVS's morning newscast, Para Empezar, on XHTVM. The simulcast lasted only one month; MVS had an exclusivity contract with DirecTV, and CNI programs were broadcast on competitor SKY México, which broke the contract.
On 16 July 2000, Moreno Valle unilaterally broke the contract with TV Azteca in an announcement on the program Séptimo Dia with Gómez Leyva, removing the network's programming from the air. Moreno Valle believed TV Azteca was filling up the time allotted to his CNI with leftover TV Azteca programs and accused Azteca of not complying with the contracts the two parties had signed. He also believed that Azteca was intentionally attempting to not generate profits, and by doing so, ruin CNI and the station in order to later buy it. In addition, Moreno Valle noted that the contracts had still not been approved by Mexican communications regulators. As a result, TV Azteca sued Moreno Valle for breach of contract and removed Moreno Valle from its administrative council.
In January 2001, the International Court of Arbitration in Paris announced it would hear the case of XHTVM.
In March 2001, a judge in Mexico City ordered the creation of a trust to enable Azteca to purchase 51% of the station; another ruling under which CNI was to pay $34 million to Azteca was issued three months later.
XHTVM broadcast 40 games of the 2002 FIFA World Cup under an agreement made with DirecTV, who owned the broadcast rights. DirecTV sold the ad time, while CNI received a cut of earnings and added other programs relating to the tournament.
In July 2002, TV Azteca filed a suit in Mexican federal court against CNI, hoping to take the company into bankruptcy reorganization (concurso mercantil), claiming that CNI still owed Azteca $15 million of the original 1998 line of credit. In addition, CNI held debts with the World Trade Center, BBC Worldwide Americas, Channel Four International and Deutsche Welle, which supplied some programs.
On 27 December 2002, TV Azteca used armed guards to take over the station and its transmitting facilities at Cerro del Chiquihuite. At 2am, 20 people wearing hoods and ski masks entered the facilities, covering the faces of the workers on site, forcing them to sign a document, and making them leave. At 6am on that day, the CNI signal was switched to a simulcast of Azteca 13, and at 6:30pm that evening, the CNI signal on DirecTV Mexico, which was not obtained over the air, began to display a message informing satellite viewers of the transmitter takeover. It used two legal rulings, including one ambiguous judgment from the International Court of Arbitration in Paris, that declared the CNI-Azteca contract valid as justification. CNI, in the meantime, was flooded with phone calls to its headquarters on the 40th floor of the World Trade Center Mexico City; its engineers on another level of the building were astonished as they watched monitors in the facility showing Azteca 13's signal in place of their own. WTC security guards told a TV Azteca reporter filing a story from the facility that he could not record a report there. A producer exclaimed, "This is like September 11!" as he ran across the facility with copies of statements to be released to the media.
XHTVM continued to simulcast Azteca 13 for several days, eventually gaining its own program schedule on December 31. Azteca even aired one edition of Informativo 40, a news program hosted by Sergio Sarmiento, in an attempt to give the reclaimed channel 40 some continuity and normalcy; unaware of the legal battle surrounding the channel, the country's Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Geografía even placed advertising on the newscast. Jorge Fernández Menéndez, a journalist who had worked for CNI said that Azteca had planned this move, noting that he, along with Maerker, Gómez Leyva and others, were offered jobs at TV Azteca in the run-up to the forced takeover; all three of them rejected the offers. Azteca also placed ads in some of Mexico's major daily newspapers soliciting former CNI workers to join Azteca's operation; they declined, countering with their own print ad the next day.
The Mexican government was extremely slow to react. Owing to the timing of the events around the Christmas holiday, neither the RTC (the Mexican Department of Radio, Television and Film) nor the SCT did anything, despite petitions from CNI and Azteca alike for the federal government to take a position on the takeover. On January 6, during a visit to the remodeled press room at Los Pinos, CNI subdirector of news Roberto López Agustín approached President Vicente Fox and demanded that he take a stand on the issue. On his way to the presidential plane, other reporters asked questions about the XHTVM situation. Fox, however, merely said, "¿Y yo por qué?" ("And why me?"), leading to one of his greatest political blunders in his tenure as president.
After the end of holiday celebrations, the RTC and Mexico's Secretariat of Communications and Transportation took the matter into their own hands. On January 6, in an 11pm press conference, the SCT announced that if no settlement between Azteca and CNI were to be reached, the government would seize control of the station. (SCT also considered solving another problem, a dispute over XHRAE channel 28, by giving TV Azteca that frequency and leaving CNI as the sole operator of channel 40.)
At Cerro del Chiquihuite, a negotiating session with Moreno Valle, TV Azteca head Ricardo Salinas Pliego and mediators including the Secretary of the Interior and Secretary of Communications and Transportation began at midnight; at this point, XHTVM immediately began to broadcast color bars. A three-day negotiation period began, and on the evening of January 9, at the start of newscasts on both Azteca and Televisa, it was announced that no agreement had been reached and that the government would seize all XHTVM installations, including the transmitter site; later, it was stated that this was done because an entity (TV Azteca) that was not the concessionaire (Televisora del Valle de México) was operating the station. On the 27th, five days after the Mexican Congress passed a resolution calling for the restoration of channel 40 to CNI, CNI resumed control of the channel and of its transmission facilities. The events related to the transmitter site became popularly known as the chiquihuitazo. Meanwhile, CNI and TV Azteca continued to negotiate in hopes of reaching a deal; even though CNI offered to pay Azteca US $25,000,000 ($32.1 million in 2015 dollars), Azteca rejected CNI's offer.
Azteca was fined 210,000 pesos (roughly US$25,000 in 2013 dollars) by the SCT after the incident.
2003-2005: Third CNI era
However, shortly after the station's crisis with TV Azteca, CNI suffered financial problems and a looming threat of a strike by its employees. At one point the government prevented government agencies—which represented a significant portion of its advertising—from buying ad time on CNI. On May 19, 2005, 300 unionized CNI employees went on strike, the first such strike in Mexico City television history, demanding US $3.6 million in back pay. The station was forced off the air by this strike action. Valle had his own legal troubles: on June 29, an arrest warrant was issued in the United States for Moreno Valle for evading some US $297,000 in taxes in addition to claims by Mexico's Tax and Finance Secretariat that XHTVM owed $19 million in unpaid taxes. Valle was arrested in Houston, Texas on 9 November 2005. The country's then-Attorney General Daniel Cabeza de Vaca asked the United States to extradite Valle to México. General Electric México loaned $5 million to CNI and was willing to help ease its financial woes, but the Mexican government blocked the loan due to its stance against foreign ownership of broadcasters; in fact, Azteca sued, claiming XHTVM defrauded its creditors by accepting a loan that they might not be able to guarantee. The union additionally would not accept payment until the loan was validated. At the same time, Azteca recognized Cabalceta, who owned 5% of Televisora del Valle de México, as the sole administrator, and the two negotiated the sale of the 51% of the station that Azteca allegedly had the option to buy.
2005-present: Azteca's Proyecto 40
On 19 September 2005, the Juez Séptimo Civil del Tribunal Superior de Justicia del Distrito Federal (Seventh Civil Court of the Superior Court of Justice for the Federal District) ruled that TV Azteca could operate XHTVM.
After several legal mistrials against Moreno Valle, XHTVM returned to the air in early 2006, now under its current moniker Proyecto 40 (Project 40). The station would continue to carry its slate of news and entertainment programming, but without interference from the large media companies. In late November 2007, Valle's lawyers sued TV Azteca for illegally using XHTVM, and in late 2011, Javier Quijano Baz, lawyer for the Televisora del Valle de México concession company, published an open letter to the Public Registrar of Property in Mexico City, outlining a resolution favorable to Moreno Valle. A federal judge had ordered Azteca to respect a shareholders' meeting of Televisora del Valle de México held on September 12, 2005, that affirmed Moreno Valle as controller of TVM. Azteca, however, believed that according to a recurso de amparo from 2007, it had the legal right to continue operating XHTVM; it also argued that Moreno Valle, due to his legal troubles, was not in a position to be able to retake control of the channel.
In July 2013, a judge reactivated the arrest warrant for Javier Moreno Valle, which had been suspended. The suspension was lifted because Moreno Valle had not paid 15 million pesos. He also had failed to pay 6 million pesos of both value-added tax and income tax. The reactivated arrest warrant can be executed by Mexico's Federal Police, though he currently resides in the United States.
In 2007, XHTVM launched its digital channel, on channel 26; XHTVM-TDT uses PSIP to map to receivers as channel 40.1. That same year, as a result of the Televisa Law, the station's concession, which would have expired in April 2008, was extended to 2021.
XHTVM's analog and digital facilities are on different towers. The XHTVM analog signal originates from the purpose-built channel 40 site; XHTVM-TDT's transmitter is co-located with those of XHIMT-TV/TDT and XHDF-TV/TDT.
Proyecto 40's programming under Azteca management currently consists of a mix of programming including newscasts (the flagship of which is known as Informativo 40), panel discussions, and general entertainment shows. TV Azteca and Showtime in the United States signed an agreement in September 2008 under which Proyecto 40 began to carry Dexter, Nurse Jackie and other Showtime programs.
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