A press release signed by Milton Torres, executive vice president of DirecTV Latin America, says ?there are no agreements between DirecTV and Sky or their parent companies regarding business associations in Brazil or elsewhere?. Any affirmation to the contrary is untrue, it goes on. The company ?remains committed to its business operations in Brazil and the potential of the Brazilian market despite the challenges posed by present economic conditions, and will continue to pursue the preference of Brazilian subscribers for its television services,? it says. The note doesn?t refer to this newsletter directly, mentioning only "articles published in the Brazilian press", but can be seen implicitly as a response to information conveyed last week by PAY-TV News indicating that negotiations conducted outside Brazil on a possible merger in Latin America had reached an advanced stage. The merger is a longstanding project championed above all by Rupert Murdoch, the controlling shareholder of News Corp. It would have taken place in 2001 if Echostar hadn?t first closed a U.S. deal with General Motors, DirecTV?s parent. Since News Corp. increased its stake in Sky Brazil, unofficial reports of merger negotiations have intensified.