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Spanish feevee’s on a spree

Digital Plus bows 60 channel service

MADRID — After several thwarted attempts to create a single main pay operator in Spain, the country’s new pay TV giant is now a reality.

Created by the absorption of satcaster Via Digital by rival Sogecable, the digital platform Digital Plus began transmissions today.

Digital Plus is offering 60 TV channels. Its initial bouquet includes some of Hollywood’s best-known niche brands: Viacom’s Nickelodeon, Paramount Comedy, MTV and VH1; U’s Calle 13; Sony’s AXN, Liberty Media’s Discovery Channel; AOL Time Warner’s Cartoon Network and CNN Plus; and News Corp.’s Fox, Fox Kids, Fox News, National Geographic and Sky News.

But the star of the merged platform is its major sports/movies premium package.

This offering has morphed from a multiplexed sports/movie channel, Canal Plus Espana, to a package of three or more sports or movie channels, or both, with the latter repping a powerful combo of up to nine channels.

All the premium packages feature a multiplexed Disney Channel. Subscriptions range from $25 for the basic package to $56 for the total platform, barring PPV transmissions.

Sogecable plans an advertising blitz beginning Aug. 18 in the run-up to Spain’s new soccer season, which kicks off in September.

Sogecable will spend up to E12 million ($13.4 million) on marketing Digital Plus, said Sogecable CEO Javier Diez de Polanco.

Boasting north of 1.5 million subs, the service aims for 3 million by 2005, he added.

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