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Orange, Sogecable sign pact

Pair to team in Spain

MADRID — Spanish pay TV leader Sogecable has inked with Orange for Sogecable satcaster Digital Plus to become part of Orange’s triple-play and 3G cell-phone offers in Spain from early 2008.

Gallic giant France Telecom’s Orange will sell Digital Plus service alongside broadband and voice telephony.

The telco has two IPTV broadband Internet operations in Spain, Orange TV and Yacom.TV, which together had rung up 300,000 subscribers by last summer.

Spanish telco Ya.com was acquired last July by France Telecom from Deutsche Telecom for Euro320 million ($470.5 million).

One question is if Orange will sell Digital Plus nationwide or only in the areas that its own TV services currently do not reach.

Sources at Orange weren’t available for comment.

Dominated by the Prisa-owned Sogecable, satellite pay TV is a slow growing business in Spain.

From October 2006 to September 2007, Digital Plus subscribers increased just 2% to 2,046,000.

Seeking to diversify from a near pure-play subs business into content sales, Sogecable has begun to ramp up multiplatform distribution of its contents.

Last June, Sogecable signed a similar deal with Spanish telco Telefonica to launch Trio Plus in the some 50% of Spanish homes that cannot as yet receive Telefonica’s IPTV service, Imagenio.

Orange and Sogecable have also teamed to launch Sogecable’s Digital Plus Mobile via Orange’s 3G cell phones, including more than 20 channels.

Digital Plus Mobile debuted last December on Vodafone 3G cell phones.

With near 75,000 subscribers paying $9 a month, “it’s a profitable business,” according to Jacques Roldan, head of the new media content unit at Sogecable.

Companies are also developing a HD version of Digital Plus Mobile to be launched on Orange cell phones during 2008.

In a parallel move, which also seeks to create added value for an operator in a tough market, ONO, Spain’s main cable operator, announced Thursday that it will add six new channels to its TV offer.

Channels Baby TV, Pacha TV, Extreme Sports Channel, Canal de las Estrellas, Biography Channel and De Casa will be available from early 2008 to ONO’s near 909,000 TV clients.

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