Major takes 20% stake in DTT channel

Disney has dipped its toe into the Spanish digital terrestrial TV market, buying a 20% stake in nationwide free-to-air channel Net TV from media conglom Vocento for an estimated e27 million ($39.4 million).

Walt Disney Co. Iberia will bring the studio’s expertise in developing TV channels and programming, plus its huge film and TV library, to Net TV.

“We believe that DTT offers an excellent business opportunity for the future,” said John Hardie, Walt Disney TV Europe, Middle East and Africa exec VP and managing director.

The deal is part of Vocento’s plan, unveiled in January, to increase the value of its DTT license.

Vocento and radio-TV company Intereconomia hold 55% and 25% stakes in Net TV, respectively.

Vocento also owns a 13% stake in moneymaking terrestrial broadcaster Telecinco and must decide before Spain’s 2010 analog switchoff whether to divest from Net TV or Telecinco. Analysts see the Disney accord as a first step toward selling off Net TV.

Vocento, a regional press giant that entered the film and TV sector in the mid-1990s, also owns Spanish light entertainment TV leader Europroducciones, TV production houses Videomedia and BocaBoca and indie film distributor Tripictures.

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