How Jesus de Polanco built a media empire

On this day, November 7 in the year 1929, one of the richest media moguls in modern Europe was born in Cantabria, a province in Northern Spain. His name was Jesus de Polanco, founder of media empire Promotora de Informaciones SA (PRISA).

Jesus de Polanco
Jesus de Polanco

Jesus de Polanco was the son of a military man. He finished his bachelor’s degree and Doctor of Jurisprudence from the Universidad Complutense de Madrid. In 1958, he founded Editorial Santillana, a textbook publishing company. At first, he went door to door to sell books but later, he had agencies not only all over Spain but also in Latin American countries. He profited tremendously in the early 1970s when the government ordered thousands of new textbooks that conform with the new curriculum in place. In 1976, he organized El Pais, a liberal newspaper which soon became the leading daily with regional offices in most regions of the country. Later, his publishing empire added financial paper Cinco Dias and movie magazine Cinemania. It also acquired an 18% stake in France newspaper le Monde.

Jesus de Polanco branched out into television broadcasting, cable operation, and radio. It aggressively expanded in the Latin American market, spending as much as $100 million to acquire a 77% stake in Radio Caracol, the biggest network in Colombia. On the home front, his company Canal Satélite Digital gained an almost monopoly of pay-TV platform in 2003 with the withdrawal of Telefonica from the market in 2002. However, Telefonica gained full ownership of the company in 2014.

In 2007, Jesus de Polanco died at the age of 77 in Madrid. He was married with 4 children. At the time of his death, his net worth was estimated by at $3 billion.


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