MADRID — Spanish digital operator Via Digital has signed up exclusive carriage rights to Playboy TV. The satcaster will offer it as a premium service for $9 a month.

The Playboy deal is the latest in a series of management and programming moves which has considerably strengthened Via over recent months.

Launched in September 1997, Via Digital claims some 230,000 subscribers; its 16 month old rival CSD claims 480,000.

In mid-April, Barcelona based program-packager Media Park, which supplies nine basic channels to Via Digital, signed a multiyear, non exclusive catalog deal with 20th Century Fox allowing Via access to library titles such as “Braveheart” and “Die Hard.”

New brass

On April 24, Via appointed economist Juan Ruiz de Gauna its new managing director. Ruiz de Gauna is highly respected among Spanish TV professionals, having helped launch Sogetel’s production activities in the early 1990s before becoming CEO of regional TV net Telemadrid in 1995.

Also in late April, Via caused a stir among Spaniards by signing up exclusive rights to the country’s three classic bullfights — in Seville, Madrid and Pamplona.

Forecasts for digital subscription in Spain are bullish, with both Via and Sogecable owned CanalSatelite Digital (CSD) unable to keep up with dish installation demands.