Prisa to bow TV, further film

Prisa, Spain’s giant publishing conglom of daily newspaper, radio, film production and distribution interests, looks set to enter TV production.

The move comes as its pay TV channel, Canal Plus Espana, faces a European Union investigation for possible anti-competitive practice regarding its announcement of a joint cable-service alliance with Spanish telco Telefonica.

Meanwhile Prisa has increased further its film production operations. Its film arm, Sogetel, finally approved at a board meeting Sept. 19 three-year, exclusive film-production deals with two Spanish indie producers – the Madrid-based CPA (Central de Producciones Audiovisuales) and Cesar Benitez. The deals are modeled on the 1994 pact between Sogetel and Spain’s largest producer, Andres Vincente Gomez, to co-produce eight-to-10 feature films a year.

According to Sogetel general manager Santiago Roldan, Prisa intends to enter “all types of TV production in a decisive manner” in the near future. Productions would be commissioned to independent producers. Their market would not just be Spain, but also Europe and the U.S., he said.

Prisa’s TV production plans are likely to include TV movies, sitcoms and dramatic series. This production line would be separated from Canal Plus Espana’s own growing international co-production slate, which is likely to concentrate on animation and documentaries, customized to the pay TV channel’s upscale demos.

Sogetel’s film production deals with CPA and Benitez raises its total production slate to a minimum annual 13 feature films, committing CPA and Benitez to produce around three and two feature films, respectively, each year. As with the Gomez deal, Sogetel will put up at least 51% financing for each project. Spanish distribution will be handled by Sogepaq Distribucion – a Prisa/Canal Plus France/Polygram joint venture. Sogepaq Internacional will take world sales.

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