CanalSatellite may top 1.4 million

Digital platform reoprts estimated $418 mil in revs

PARIS — Bruno Delecour, president of the French digital platform CanalSatellite, Thursday pronounced 1999 “a vintage year,” estimating revenue of some 3.2 billion francs ($418 million).

Delecour told the economic daily Le Figaro that by the end of the year, subscriptions to Canal Plus’ satellite service were expected to top the 1.4 million mark.

He gave no details, however, on profits. CanalSatellite reported losses of $103 million in 1997 and $72 million in 1998. It is expected to break even in 1999.

CanalSatellite launched its analog service in 1992, switching to digital in 1996 in a move that many wrongly predicted would damage Canal Plus’ core pay TV service. Instead, Canal Plus’ pay TV channel today has close to 4.6 million subscribers, Delecour said Thursday.

Along with other French TV groups, Canal Plus has recently seen its share price rocket as the market predicts a rosy future for the sector.

But CanalSatellite faces keen competition from smaller rival digital platform Television Par Satellite, with 800,000 subscribers.

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