M6 hearing all of SND

RTL looking to link b'caster and distributor

PARIS — French broadcaster M6 is planning to buy the RTL Group-owned French distributor SND.

Announcing the group’s 2000 results on Tuesday, chairman and CEO Nicolas de Tavernost told journalists that M6 will take “100% of SND.”

The RTL Group holds 42% of M6 while Suez owns a 37% stake.

De Tavernost did not specify whether the group plans to merge SND with M6’s other film divisions, or run it as a separate entity.

The network’s movie activities include M6 Film, which co-produces French and European films; M6 Interaction, video and diversification; and its rights acquisitions unit M6 Droit Audivisuel.

SND was France’s 14th distributor last year, with almost 1.9 million ticket sales. Its biggest release was “Autumn in New York” with 955,000 admissions.

There was speculation in France Wednesday that the SND deal could be linked to Bertelsmann’s rumored ambitions to become a player in the global film business.

The daily Le Figaro suggested on Wednesday that Bertelsmann, which recently upped its stake in the RTL Group to 67%, was planning to revive production unit CLT/Ufa films, which is a largely inactive part of rights trading/production arm CLT/Ufa International.

“We as a group have made clear that we are interested in combining the capacity of our channels for buying and co-financing films,” an RTL spokesman said. “It’s not centralizing but linking the operational businesses within the RTL Group. We are considering possibilities of buying across the group and that could lead to increased co-production.”

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