1/24/97 -- 1:39 PM

NBC-Canal de Noticias,0363

NEW YORK (AP) - NBC is shutting down its Spanish-language cable news network, Canal de Noticias, amid growing competition and plans to expand the reach of MSNBC and CNBC in Latin America.

Canal de Noticias has not been profitable since its launch in March 1993. The network reaches about 5 million households, mostly through cable but also over the air and through direct satellite systems. About 1.2 million of those homes are within the United States.

NBC, a unit of General Electric Co., announced the closure Thursday and said it will take place in the second quarter of this year.

The young network has struggled amid growing competition. CBS recently acquired TeleNoticias, which reaches more than 10 million homes, and renamed it CBS TeleNoticias. CNN is planning to launch CNN en Espanol in March.

``Canal de Noticias was founded on a great idea, and it opened the door for NBC's launch into Latin America,'' Bill Bolster, president of NBC Latin America, said in a statement. ``When Canal was formed, however, NBC had no 24-hour cable news service to offer in the international marketplace.''

The recent launch of MSNBC, which offers all-day news, has allowed NBC to reformulate its strategy.

MSNBC, as well as CNBC, which offers business news as well as talk shows, will provide greater competitive strength to the programming NBC can offer in Latin America, said George Jamison, a spokesman for NBC.

Cable operators carrying Canal de Noticias will be offered MSNBC. CNBC will expand in Latin America separately.

NBC plans to offer both networks in Spanish and Portuguese, but Jamison provided no timetable. NBC also hopes to work with Latin American partners to supplement the two networks with local programming.

Canal de Noticias is seen in 22 countries including the United States, is based in Charlotte, N.C., and employs about 50 workers, some of whom will be offered other jobs at NBC units. Jamison was not able to say how many will find work there.

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