Murdoch, Mediaset interested in Digital+?
Iñaki Ferreras

BSkyB and Mediaset are apparently looking again at Sogecable's digital pay TV operator Digital+. The two media groups have again shown their interest in buying the operator, together with Spain's main telco Telefónica.

Last year BSkyB and Mediaset withdrew from the race to buy ouy Digital+ because Sogecable put a too high price for the operator.

Last March, the country's main media group Prisa, Sogecable's owner, reached an agreement with some Spanish banks to renew the loan for Sogecable for a one-year period under some conditions. But Prisa will have to extend its money capital or get a debt for a minimum of €250 million before October 31.

The failure of Prisa to sell Digital+ to the joint-venture of France's Vivendi and Spain's Telefónica has brought back companies that withdrew some months ago due to the high cost of the operation (Prisa wanted €3,000 million for the operator).

Now Prisa needs desperately to sell Digital+ in order to cover its high debt. If BSkyB and Mediaset go for the final operation, Telefónica-Vivendi would still play a role. Telefónica would manage the operator's database amounting to some two million subscribers while Vivendi would be in

charge of content.

Rupert Murdoch's BSkyB and Silvio Berlusconi's Mediaset are old frends in the pay-TV business. At the end of last year while Digital+'s future was at stake the two media tycoons were in he middle of an audiovisual war in Italy: Murdoch launched a media campaign encouraging citizens to critizice the Italian government after it decided to impose a VAT rise on Italy's satellite pay-TV operator Sky Italia, owned by News Corp.