La Sexta, Warner ink on classics

Deal builds on relationship

SEVILLE, Spain — Spanish broadcast network La Sexta has bought a package of more than 60 movie classics from Warner Bros. Intl. TV Distribution.

Deal covers titles such as “All the President’s Men,” “Dirty Harry,” “The Exorcist,” “North by Northwest,” “Fame,” “Gremlins” and “Superman IV.”

Underscoring how the wave of digital terrestrial TV channel launching across Europe is building an ever more significant secondary market for U.S. studio fare, the movies will be broadcast primetime from Nov. 13 on LaSexta3, the broadcasting group’s new U.S. fiction DTT channel.

The deal builds on one of the biggest TV deals of 2010 in Spain, which saw commercial web La Sexta pay about Euros30 million ($41.1 million) for a three-year, exclusive free-to-air TV output deal with WBITD.

Encompassing new dramas and features — “Invictus,” “Sherlock Holmes,” “Gran Torino” — that deal targeted Sexta’s core channel as much as DTT.

The two Warner agreements also illustrate a seismic shunt in Spain’s TV landscape as pubcaster RTVE offloads its Hollywood studio deals.

With the March pact, WBITD transferred to La Sexta the multi-year arrangement it previously held with RTVE as part of a larger WBITD deal for Spain, which had RTVE sharing titles with regional broadcaster association Forta.

La Sexta also acquired a 50-movie package from MGM in late October. Movies will again play LaSexta3 primetime or latenight. All three deals also serve to build Sexta’s inventory as, analysts predict, it locks horns with far larger web Antena 3 over Sexta’s broadcast group value in reportedly advanced negotiations to pool Sexta and Antena 3 assets in one single TV holding.

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