Efforts by French pay TV giant Canal Plus to carve itself a piece of the international digital broadcasting pie took a major step forward last week with the announcement that Canal Plus and Generale D’Images have pacted with Tele-Communications Intl. Inc. to form a new cable and satellite programming company.
The trio will be equal partners in the Paris-based Multithematiques, with TCI Intl. president and COO Adam Singer acting as chairman of the company. Michel Thoulouze, international VP at Canal Plus, will be Multithematiques’ CEO.
The new company will develop Canal Plus’ and Generale D’Images’ existing cable and satellite channels while also launching new formats around the world. Generale D’Images is the media subsid of waterworks services giant Generale des Eaux.
Although the trio would not give details of the kind of channels they planned to put on the market, Thoulouze told Variety that they are studying a hunting and fishing service, and a format of lifestyle and light entertainment channel called Canal Jimmy for the Japanese market.
The alliance also strengthens Canal Plus’ hand in its ongoing digital battle with CLT. Both companies have plans to launch satellite-delivered pay TV packages, with CLT prepping a move into France in direct competition with Canal Plus.
Pierre Dauzier, chairman of Havas, has been trying to mediate between the duo – Havas has stakes in both groups. Dauzier has said he does not see the sense in backing two rival European digital clusters.
As news of the TCI deal filtered through, unconfirmed reports suggested that CLT is rethinking its position. Instead of trying to tough it out with Europe’s leading pay TV outfit and the powerhouse TCI, CLT is now expected to pact with Canal Plus.