Company looks to competitivity in Spanish market

MEXICO CITY – The world’s largest producer of Spanish-language content Televisa confirmed Friday it is in talks with a number of players to merge Spanish free-to-air broadcaster La Sexta with a larger conglom.

A spokesperson for Televisa, which holds a 40.5% stake in the web, told Variety that the company was in merger talks to improve La Sexta’s competitivity in the Spanish market.

“Nevertheless, we were not able to solidify anything today,” added the source. “We will continue to analyze different options that are presented to us.”

All in all, Televisa has invested US$365 million in La Sexta over five years.

Launched in March 2006 by Spanish conglom Imagina and Televisa, La Sexta was one of two new broadcast networks bowing in the Spanish market. The web pulled off a major coup by winning broadcast rights to the 2006 FIFA World Cup soccer tourney, sharing them with then fellow new-kid-on-the- block Cuatro, owned by Spanish conglom Sogecable.

Feeding both its core channels and brace of DTT services, La Sexta completed a number of deals purchasing free-to-air rights to dozens of movies from MGM and WB over 2010.

Nevertheless, La Sexta has failed to reach the profitability targets investors have hoped for. Mediapro, of Imagina’s core shareholders, is currently mired in what local media call the “soccer wars” with Prisa, owner of satcaster Digital Plus and paybox Canal Plus over rights to Spanish soccer league games.

The company saw a loss of $34.3 million in 2010, according to investment bank Santander, having nabbed a 6.6% audience share.

Televisa’s ties to La Sexta have been part of the web’s wider plans for Europe as one of the mega-broadcaster’s key spheres of influence in an ever-growing global web of media involvement with significant moves this year in such large markets as China and Brazil.

Emiliabno de Pablos contributed to this article

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