Prisa, Mediapro seal deal

Iñaki Ferreras

Several days ago, Rapid TV News reported on a likely deal between Spain's main media groups Prisa and Mediapro's Imagina. Now this agreement has been signed, turning the relationship between the companies upside down.

Prisa’s Sogecable, which operates the Digital+ pay-TV platform and Mediapro, which owns the LaSexta terrestrial channel, have been warring over soccer for almost two years now. Sogecable sued Mediapro claiming its soccer rights were illegal. Now the companies will exploit them together.

The deal, signed last Thursday night, establishes Sogecable's pay TV operator Digital+ as offering all of the soccer matches of the Spanish Soccer League and the King's Cup for the next three seasons. And both companies have a month to sign a formal agreement of merger, creating a new company in which both will be shareholders.

Mediapro executives said that this month will serve both parties to "consider the possibility of this operation".

However, the agreement doesn't encompass Mediapro's pay TV channel Gol TV which the producer wants to launch in Spain's DTT on August (although as yet there is still no law allowing payment on DTT).

Last February Spain's government opened the door to the merger of national private broadcasters providing that the average audience acumulated of the broadcasters is not higher than 27% of the country’s total. Sogecable's Cuatro and Mediapro's laSexta fulfill this requirement.

But Mediaset's Spanish Telecinco said this agreement "is something difficult to accept taking account the deal means the creation of a big media holding meaning at the same time Spain's biggest media concentration".

The new holding company will have two national newspapers, another two national TV channels, a pay-TV operator and the biggest Hispanic radio station ever.