RTV subsid gets digital OK

MADRID – At a cabinet meeting Friday, the Spanish government gave official clearance to TVE Tematica, a digital TV subsid of huge Spanish pubcaster Radio Television Espanola (RTVE).

Spain’s secretary of state for communications, Miguel Angel Rodriguez, insisted afterwards that the digital platform led by Spanish telco Telefonica and RTVE will be officially constituted by the end of January.

The government insistence comes despite the fact that the Telefonica-RTVE alliance looks set to lose its pay-per-view soccer rights, the supposed jewel in Spain’s digital Canal Satellite Digital crown, to the rival platform, (CSD), which aims to launch in late January. CSD is owned by Sogecable, a joint venture of French pay-TV giant Canal Plus (25%) and Spanish conglom PRISA (25%).

In a three-way deal which stunned Spain, commercial web Antena 3 TV, Sogecable and regional pubcaster TV-3 created a joint venture on Christmas Eve to share Spanish soccer rights, with PPV transmissions forseeably being handled by CSD. This would happen despite the fact that Antena 3 TV has a nominal 17% in the Telefonica-led platform.

Three large questions now dominate Spain’s digital battle.

Will Antena 3 TV withdraw its nominal 17% from the telco platform and decamp totally to CSD? What is the position of Mexico’s Televisa, which also has 17% in Telefonica’s platform? And who will strike the big digital deals with the U.S. studios? NATPE might see one or two of the latter fall by end of play.

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