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Spain: New players wait in wings

MADRID — This year will mark a before-and-after in Spanish broadcasting.

Spain’s government will approve its first analog terrestrial broadcaster in 15 years: a relaunched version of Sogecable paybox Canal Plus, extending from six daily free-to-air hours to 24.

The government might greenlight a second analog operator: The Recoletos/El Mundo-owned Veo TV was being talked up mid-March, but the ruling socialists might balk at favoring a right-of-center consortium.

Also, Spain’s parliament is advancing on hiking RTVE’s state subsidies and introducing an ad cap.

Sogecable hasn’t advanced a business model for its analog feed but analysts are running numbers.

“Achieving a first-year 8%-12% share, Sogecable’s channel could benefit from surplus advertiser demand, 5%-10% TV ad growth this year and RTVE’s ad ceiling,” says Iber securities analyst Enrique Jimenez.

The new channel will pursue the upscale popular reach of Sogecable managing shareholder Prisa. That means hip U.S. shows, docs, newscasts, and local productions, often from young directors.

New boutique broadcasters will accelerate Spain’s move toward precise and sophisticated foreign buys.

According to programming director Fernando Jerez, film broadcaster Antena 3 is “morphing studio accords from output to volume deals and acquiring only primetime-worthy movies.” Its Mip hit list: movies, telepics and a U.S. show replacing high-rated “Without a Trace.”

Telecinco hiked its share this January from 24% to 28% for half the cost, says acquisitions managing director Ghislain Barrois, substituting its last primetime movie slot for Spanish police procedural “El comisario.” Acquisition interests are series, TV movies and telepics and library features.

Spain’s Forta regional pubcasters teamed on RTVE’s latest Warner Bros. multiyear deal. Catalonia’s TVC also has a volume deal with Sony. With these in place, says TVC acquisitions head Carles Blanch, it will look for docs, animation and select series.

RTVE shares similar tastes. But, though honing PBS programming, it’s also movie shopping, as a recent Paramount deal confirms. “We’re still currently ad-financed, so we can’t forget audience appeal,” explains program director Jose Luis Roncal.

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