Territory report: Spain

Fewer hands holding reins in Spain's TV biz

MADRID — As the Spanish TV market explodes, powered by massive deregulation and one of the fastest-growing economies in Europe, the number of key players diminishes.

The latest consolidation: Regional publisher Correo, 25% owner of commercial broadcaster Telecinco, has just merged with rival Prensa Espanola, leaving Correo with 79% of the joint entity.The deal also gives Correo 30% of entertainment company Europroducciones.

Correo already had stakes in producers Esicma (17%), Arbol (17%) and Boca (30%).

Through Prensa Espanola, Correo acquired a hefty presence in upcoming digital terrestrial player Net TV as Prensa Espanola has a 25% share; Arbol owns a 12% stake.

“Spanish film and TV will soon be dominated by five or six big players accounting for 90% of production. Either you’re one of them or you could have problems,” says Boca prexy Cesar Benitez.

The players are already fairly clear: Madrid’s Arbol, Cartel, Boca, Zeppelin and Europroducciones, and Barcelona’s Gestmusic Endemol and MediaPro.

In December, this last combo set up Media Carlton, a 50-50 production venture with the U.K.’s Carlton Communications. In the past year, other new shingles include Prisa’s Plural and Produce Plus, owned by Sogecable’s paybox Canal Plus Espana.

Arbol and Boca alone produce five and three primetime hits, respectively, in Spain.

Conglom Telefonica Media owns Gestmusic and Zeppelin.

All the players will look to three possible watersheds in Spain: the launch of digital terrestrial TV in 2002; the emergence of regional and local TV nets; and Telefonica’s current broadband rollout, which may force more alliances, even between itself and major rival Sogecable.

TV homes:12 million

Cable homes:500,000

Satellite homes (satellite pay tv):1.9 million

Local programming:22%

Top show:Tele 5’s local version of “Big Brother” (30% share)

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