Canal Plus is to end up owning three quarters of a new Polish satellite-TV platform, according to the terms of an agreement signed today (Aug 10) with Dutch cable empire UPC.
The widely anticipated deal (Screendaily, Aug 6) sees UPC's Wizja TV platform merged with Canal Plus' Cyrfa+ platform and the Canal Plus Polska premium pay-TV channel. On completion, UPC will own 25% of the new company TKP and receive a Euros125m payment.
TKP starts life with some 700,000 subscribers and a commitment to use Canal Plus' MediaGuard conditional access software and its MediaHighway interactive systems.
The enlarged bouquet of channels, including Canal Plus Polska, will also get carriage on UPC's wholly-owned cable TV networks.
Pierre Lescure, co-COO of Vivendi Universal and chairman of the executive board of Canal Plus Group, said: "After restructuring our international activities in Italy and the Nordic countries this confirms our group's determination to strengthen our activities in Europe. The Polish viewer will benefit from our agreement with an unprecedented programming offering as well as a larger and easier access to Canal+ Polska."
Mark Schneider, CEO of UPC, said: "We have made it clear for some time that we are looking to focus on our core business, this transaction helps us to achieve that goal by rationalising our DTH assets into a common platform whilst allowing us to retain ownership of, and improve our cable business with the addition of the Canal+ Polska Channel."
Meanwhile, the UK's two cable network operators NTL and the smaller Telewest, are to embark on an "operational merger" it emerged yesterday. A working group has already been set up to explore joint procurement of hardware, notably set-top decoders, which they both buy from the K's Pace Microelectronices and the US' Scientific Atlanta. Telewest managing director Philip Jansen said: "Everybody understands the rationale for the merger of these two businesses but in the meantime there are some benefits we can get from co-operation in certain areas." A full merger is unlikely in the short term until two pair can drive down their debt burdens, which jointly exceed $21.9bn (£15.5bn).