Poland’s digital split

Canal Plus, U.S.-based co. agree to disagree

PARIS — Plans appear to have collapsed for Canal Plus’ Polish subsid Canal Plus Polska to team with U.S.-based @Entertainment Inc. on a Polish digital platform.

In a statement released Tuesday, Canal Plus said that negotiations, based on a letter of intent signed April 17, have been interrupted at the request of @Entertainment, but that the French pay television group still intends to kick start its Polish digital operations in September.

For its part, @Entertainment says it will launch its Wizja TV package of channels on cable in Poland this week and a direct-to-home digital platform in September.

Under the terms of the agreement, @Entertainment’s Polish subsid DTC Productions SpZoo would have taken a 40% stake in Telewizja Korporacja Poland, the parent of Canal Plus Polska, paying around $110 million in the process. TKP would have been controlled 40% by DTC Prods., 40% by the Canal Plus group, with the remaining 20% in the hands of Polish investors.

The two sides had until May 31 to hammer out a definitive joint venture. Until that deadline, @Entertainment agreed to put its Wizja TV digital launch on hold.

In a statement, @Entertainment’s CEO Robert Fowler said he is “disappointed that the parties were not able to come to an agreement.” He added that “we have informed TKP that we remain available to discuss the remaining issues that separate us.”

Fowler did not say what those issues were and Canal Plus execs would not be drawn either, although sources in Paris did not rule out a resumption of talks.

@Entertainment owns Poland Communications Inc., which operates Poland’s largest cable network — currently serving some 850,000 subscribers. Premium pay-TV channel Canal Plus Polska has around 240,000 subscribers to its analog service.

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