Viacom, Vocento agree alliance

Spanish DTT channels gain access to library

Viacom has struck a programming alliance with Spanish media conglom Vocento for Spain’s emerging DTT market.

Starting in September, the agreement will allow Vocento’s regional and local DTT channels access to Viacom’s vast library, including TV content from MTV Networks, Nickelodeon and Comedy Central.

The in-principle deal envisions further joint steps in TV distribution or co-production.

“This is a first step. We are open to all options,” a Viacom source said.

For Vocento, the deal looks set to provide a significant part of the company’s regional programming needs — and adds weight to the argument that budget-tight, nascent DTT players in Spain will turn to acquisition, not local TV production, to cover first-phase programming needs.

The move follows Vocento relationships with other leading global entertainment companies. Last year, Disney took a 20% stake in Vocento’s nationwide DTT operator Net TV and signed a strategic agreement to develop further DTT channels.

Disney Channel uses one of Net TV’s four DTT licenses, while Intereconomia TV — owned by Spain’s Grupo Intereconomia, a minority shareholder in Net — operates a second.

Vocento is one of Spain’s biggest media groups, with a 5% stake in free-to-air broadcaster Telecinco and a 55% stake in Net. Via its holding Veralia, Vocento has controlling shares in TV production houses Europroducciones, BocaBoca, Videomedia and Hillvalley, as well as indie film distributor Tripictures.

Vocento’s regional and local DTT interests include Madrid’s Ondaseis TV and Barcelona’s Urbe TV, plus 10 local TV stations, which form part of Vocento strong regional press division.

Analog switch-off in Spain is skedded for April 3, 2010.