Spanish pay TV in buying mood

Acqusition execs looking to add a variety of shows to their p'gramming

MADRID – Spain boasts the most competitive pay TV market in Southern Europe. Europe’s second terrestrial digital operator launched in April, cable is consolidating and the satcasters that bowed in 1997 are growing fast.

Accordingly, a phalanx of pay TV acquisition execs are heading to Mipcom with shopping lists in hand, but very different goals in mind.

Documentaries top the wish list of Jacques Roldan, head of acquisitions, film and TV for conglom Sogecable.

“My focus will be finding the highest-quality wildlife and travel documentaries for our channels, such as Viajar,” says Roldan, who buys for premium pay channel Canal Plus Espana and satcaster Canal Satelite Digital, both owned by Sogecable. CSD also will look at miniseries, specials and animation programming.

“We are looking for relationships that can give us product, but only in the long term,” continues Roldan. (An example of such an accord is the exclusive 10-pic agreement signed with Spyglass in May.)

The mandate of CSD rival Via Digital is to add muscle to content deals, says Ramon Colom, general manager of programming and contents.

“I’m looking for things the others don’t have,” he says. “Independent productions can have the same quality as a big name. You can find a great documentary from Australia without having to go to the BBC.

Event programs such as the Grammys and Emmys, miniseries, specials and pay-per-views are also possible purchases. In addition, Colom has his eye on the interactive market.

His new-media concern is understandable. One rival is Ono, which is pitching itself to potential subscribers as a fully integrated broadband service provider, combining telephony, Internet and cable TV in one consumer package. Marketing sales director Carlos Navia says the time is now for enhanced TV.

“It will be a complete renaissance of television as we see it today, opening up new creative solutions and enormous business opportunities,” says Navia.

Ono will be looking for new interactive technologies and content at Mipcom.

Spain’s largest cable company is AOC, an association of large cablers that created acquisition company Estreno Digital. Having inked with several majors, Estreno will be looking further afield at Mipcom for product.

“It’s a great place to find material and new ideas,” says Sonia Talarewitz, managing director at 9-month-old Estreno.

Potentially, Spain’s biggest pay-TV buyer is Quiero TV. “We have only been around for six months, so these our are very first steps. Our main focus as buyers is to make our presence known,” says Juan Baixeras, head of communications.

The DTT operator will be searching for series to fill its round-the-clock Fiction Factory channel, and children’s programming and documentary channels.

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