Confirming for the first time that both groups are actively looking at the European pay-per-view market, Canal Plus and Chargeurs announced yesterday that they have signed a partnership agreement to market direct broadcast satellite channels to France.

The agreement, reported last week, means that the giant Chargeurs group, which already has a 17.5% stake in BSkyB, will take a 20% shareholding in Canal Satellite — the Canal Plus sat subsid.

Chargeurs will acquire 200 million francs ($ 37.7 million) worth of new shares to be issued by Canal Satellite late April. Canal Plus will purchase 100 million francs ($ 18.8 million) worth.

Canal Plus and Chargeurs said they “plan to extend these (DBS services) to satellite-delivered pay-per-view programming.”

In recent months, there has been considerable speculation that both Canal Plus and Chargeurs were studying the idea of launching PPV.

A Canal Plus spokesperson said it is “too early to say when we will launch a pay-per-view service or what form it would take.”

The companies reportedly believe that PPV is not worth launching until the number of homes cabled or able to receive DBS signals increases significantly from around 1 million subscribers.

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