Canal Plus, Vivendi talk up News pact

French feevee may give up BSkyB shares in deal

PARIS — France’s pay TV titan Canal Plus and its main shareholder, utilities giant Vivendi, are hammering home their interest in deals with Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp.

Canal Plus chief exec Pierre Lescure recently said, “It makes sense for Platco and Canal Plus to cooperate.” Platco is the future worldwide digital TV holding being set up by News Corp.

The French press also reported that Lescure sees the two groups as “complementary geographically.”

Pressing their case

Earlier, another top official in the Vivendi-Canal Plus camp made similar remarks. Alex Berger, chief executive of Numedia, a Web subsidiary of Canal Plus, advised News Corp. to cooperate with Canal Plus and Vivendi in the multi-access portal MAP, controlled equally by Vivendi and British concern Vodafone.

Vivendi’s chief executive, Jean-Marie Messier, has confirmed that the group is in discussions with News Corp. over Platco.

The French press speculates that a deal could be cut whereby Canal Plus would relinquish its minority 24.5% share in BSkyB, in which News Corp. owns 40% of the stock, in exchange of entry into Platco. News Corp., press reports said, may be interested in providing MAP capital and/or content.

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