Telecinco fights pay-TV on DTT

Spain's Mediapro is proposing a pay-TV soccer channel on the country's DTT system for football fans.

Not surprisingly the suggestion received speedy rejection from Mediaset-backed national channel Telecinco. The idea came from rival LaSexta's production company Mediapro, but Telecinco argues that the soccer contracts - and others - are in place for some 5 years.

Paolo Vasile, Telecinco's CEO, has asked the Spanish government to wait five years until the decision on possible pay on DTT is made. These five years represent the period during which the contracts of the national private channels have signed with American film studios and with other sports content providers.

Kicking this ball into the long grass is one solution, but for Mediapro to be able to commercialize its planned pay-TV soccer channel Spain's digital TV laws would have to be reformed, or else the government would need to pass modifying legislation permitting the scheme to proceed.

For the moment Spain's government has simply said that pay-TV on DTT is "technically possible", which everyone realised, and at the same time assured the market that the government would make a decision on the proposal. But in the usual closely-knit audiovisual sector it is widely reported that Mediapro has already received an informal green light from government officials, given that the project seems to already be well advanced, Vasile pointed out.

On the other hand, Telecinco's CEO and president Alejandro Echevarría used the AGM of Telecinco's shareholders by criticising Spain's government and saying it is not doing enough by way of support for DTT's implementation.

As for last year's Telecinco numbers, they reached record levels with advertising incomes up at the €1bn level.