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Carlton takes stake in Spain Onda Digital

Brit co. adds DTT consortium to digital roster

MADRID — Furthering its European digital TV presence, Britain’s Carlton Communications has taken a 7.5% stake in Spanish digital terrestrial television (DTT) consortium Onda Digital.

Carlton is already the co-owner, with Granada Media, of Europe’s first up-and-running DTT operator, OnDigital.

Spain’s Onda Digital is the sole applicant for Spain’s DTT franchise, whose application period ran out Friday. With the DTT award skedded to be announced June 30, Onda Digital could be operating by September, allowing Carlton significant influence on Europe’s early DTT services.

Controlled by Spanish telco and transmission company Retevision with a 49% participation, Onda Digital will run 14 DTT channels in Spain. These will operate as predominantly subscription services.

Onda Digital’s key challenge will be to access programming.

Crucial here could be both Carlton’s own rights catalog and that of Media Park, a 15% shareholder in Onda Digital and Spain’s largest digital pay TV rights channel packager.

Carlton can also be expected to contribute know-how to Onda Digital. Calton’s U.K. OnDigital DTT service claims some 110,000 subs.

Other leading Onda Digital shareholders include book and video publisher Jose Manuel Lara (15%) and six Spanish regional savings banks (12%). Retevision is owned by telco Telecom Italia (29%) and Spanish electricity utility group Endesa (29%).

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