News Corp chief Rupert Murdoch has reportedly invited French free-TV broadcaster TF1 to enter News Corp and Telecom Italia's Italian pay-TV operation Stream, a competitor to Canal Plus' Telepiu.

Murdoch and TF1 previously discussed an Italian alliance in the early days of News Corp's involvement in Stream, but the talks did not succeed. At the time, Stream, originally a cable service with only 200,000 subscribers, did not seem much of a match for Telepiu's 800,000 subscribers. Since then, however, Stream and Telepiu have engaged in a cutthroat competition for film and soccer rights, making life difficult for Canal Plus' loss-making Italian operation.

In addition, Murdoch has invited French utilities giant Vivendi to swap its 25% stake in UK satellite broadcaster BSkyB for a stake in his proposed global satellite platform Platco.

Vivendi chairman Jean-Marie Messier has previously stated that he would like to see a tie-up between Vivendi-controlled Canal Plus and Platco (Screendaily, April 7). The platform will combine News Corp's interests in BSkyB, Sky Latin America, Hong Kong-based Star TV, Japan's SKYPerfecTV, Stream and Germany's Premiere. It is expected to develop an Internet portal accessible via mobile phones.