The UK's Carlton Communications has scaled back its plans for an internet "Grand @lliance" with France's TF1 and the Epsilon trio of Kirch, Mediaset and Telecinco.
According to sources, the pact came unstuck when it failed to secure financial commitments from Kirch, Mediaset and Telecinco. But Carlton denies that its internet strategy has been blown off course. It will continue to form pragmatic alliances with other broadcast and internet partners.
Carlton says it will now revert to its smaller scale internet content deal with TF1 (ScreenDaily, March 3) and that it has agreed in principle to invest $15m in TAK, a newly hatched venture between Microsoft and Thomson Multimedia, the French electronics group to which it yesterday agreed to sell film and video processor Technicolor (ScreenDaily, Dec 11).
"TAK is likely to be the main area of co-operation between us and Thomson. They are doing very similar things to ONdigital," said Carlton's communications chief David Cameron. "The sale of Technicolor completes our strategy of disposals in the manufacturing sector allowing us to concentrate on being a media business. By taking a 5.5% stake in Thomson Multimedia we get to participate in the upside at Technicolor, which is a firm we continue to believe in." Carlton sold its Quantel image processing equipment division to a management buyout team in July.
Under the Grand @lliance plans, unveiled in May (ScreenDaily, May 25), the five participants were each to have invested Euros50m creating an investment pool that would be drawn on to fund internet and interactive television acquisitions.
At the time, Carlton said that the fund would be used to buy into European internet start-ups, established US internet businesses, internet broadcast rights - notably sports rights - or technology solutions. The acquired businesses would have been expected to drive and build traffic for the partners' existing on-line operations and to have harnessed the huge marketing power of the companies' broadcast operations.