In the first figures released from Spain's new digital satellite pay TV platform Digital Plus since its July 21 merger, the platform boasted 50,000 new subscribers in September alone.

Digital Plus's current total of 1.8m subscribers includes the dissolution of 30,000 overlapped subscriptions from merged platforms Canal Satelite Digital (CSD) and Via Digital, but still falls short of the 2.5m anticipated by the partners for the launch.

Although subscribers can access all Digital Plus channels until October 31, when the new platform's package offers will come into play, parent company Sogecable said almost half of existing subscribers - 530,000 - have already opted to boost their subscriptions and 92.7% of these had furthermore upgraded to include more premium content.

Expectedly, the merger has not been without its costs. Sogecable revealed "restructuring costs" totalling Euros 126.9m in the third quarter of 2003, made up chiefly of programming expenses related to the cancellation of about 30 thematic channels to shave the merged platform down to 75 channels total.

Other restructuring expenses have involved technical services, rentals and severance pay for employees made redundant. Advertising costs also jumped thanks to an ambitious marketing campaign launched for the new platform. Four different TV spots directed by Bruce Saint Clair were shot over three weeks in Spain and Bulgaria with more than 500 extras.