Telefónica still interested in Digital+

Iñaki Ferreras

Spain's main telco Telefónica is still interested in Sogecable's pay-TV operator Digital+. Neither the economic crisis, nor the government's green light to pay-DTT have prevented the company from taking a stake in Digital+, according to Telefónica's CEO Julio Linares.

Last Spring the telco held intense negotiations along with French media group Vivendi to buy the business. But the lack of an agreement in valuing Digital+ and also the beginning of the conversations between Sogecable's owner, media group Prisa and its main competitor Mediapro's Imagina over a potential merger of the Cuatro and laSexta channels left these contacts at a stand still.

Telefónica now will not rule out a re-start in negotiations "provided an opportunity comes up," said Linares. "We are after a good industrial partner. So it'd be very important to partner with somebody with the necessary know-how," added Julio Linares when questioned on the likelihood of an agreement with Vivendi over Digital+’s purchase.

Nevertheless, Telefónica's CEO avoided talking about the most delicate aspect of this possible operation: the final price.

According to him, the new scenario in the management of soccer rights (with Mediapro’s Gol TV planning on launching on pay-DTT) may not have a negative impact on Digital+'s valuation. “It all depends on the skill of both pay-TV operators for managing the soccer matches," he said.

Telefónica and Prisa group already have a good relationship, commercializing content together since last June, when the telco gave its mobile internet clients a free subscription to Digital+ via the 'Trio+' package on DSL plus traditional telephony.

Despite this nice relationship, Telefónica would like to have a more intense relationship with Sogecable, meaning being able to participate in the CEO's meetings and conferences.

Vivendi’s CEO Jean-Bernard Lévy made no comments over a likely interest in adquiring a stake in Digital+ at Vivendi’s results announcement earlier in the week.