Spanish digital satellite platform Via Digital announced a 30% rise in subscribers over the last six months, bringing its total to 450,000. Though the numbers fall short of competitor Canal Satelite Digital's (CSD) 825,000 subscribers, Via is showing a faster rate of growth as well as a slight rise in audience shares.

Analysts suggest the news of Via's rising competitiveness could result in a renewal of merger talks between the two platforms. Rumours that Telefonica is negotiating a purchase from France's Vivendi of stakes in Canal Plus, owner of CSD, is also fuelling merger talks.

Via and CSD are facing heightened competition in the Spanish pay-TV market. The nascent cable market exploded in 1999 with the entrance of terrestrial digital provider Onda Digital, backed by Telefonica telecom rival Retevision. Leading cable provider Ono (CableEuropa) this week announced first year-end results of more than 40,639 customers, a 101% rise over the third quarter of 1999. Ono now reaches more than 320,000 homes for both telephone and cable services in 11 cities, and is currently cabling another 20 cities in Spain.