France's football league, the Ligue de Football
Professionnel, said potential bidders for rights to
broadcast top-flight French football matches over the
next three years have until the end of this month to
declare their interest in taking part in an upcoming
auction of the rights. In a legal notice posted on the
league's web site, the LFP said it will launch the
auction "in the next few weeks". The main contenders
for the rights are expected to be Canal Plus, Vivendi
Universal's pay-TV unit, and TPS, a digital TV
platform jointly-owned by TF1 and M6. Analysts say
fierce competition between the two main bidders could
push the price of the rights to over ?500 million.
Under the current deal, Canal Plus holds most of the
rights in a package worth around ?365 million.

A French government delegation met on September 22
British ministerial counterparts and broadcasters to
discuss applying UK's model for digital TV services in
France. Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres, the French culture
minister, is also due for talks at Ofcom, the media
regulator, over the timetable for switching off
analogue signals in favour of multi-channel digital TV
transmissions. The French government has set a target
to achieve 35 per cent digital TV penetration by March
2005, rising to 85 per cent by 2007.


German cable giant Kabel Deutschland (KDG) said on
September 22 that it has dropped its $3.3 billion
takeover attempt of three regional cable companies
after failing to receive regulatory approval for the
deal. KDG had planned to buy out regional operators
Ish Iesy and Kabel Baden-Wuerttemberg in a deal that
would have given the company a virtual monopoly on the
German market and up KDG's subscriber base from 7
million to 17 million customers. The deal appeared to
be dead after Germany's antitrust watchdog expressed
reservations in August. The authorities said they were
worried that KDG was not willing to invest enough to
develop high-speed Internet and cable telephony
services -- one of the main reasons the federal
watchdog rejected John Malone's bid for six German
cable networks two years ago. KDG had offered to
invest more than $2 billion over the next 10 years in
Internet and telephone services.

Haim Saban will gain a majority stake in broadcaster
ProSiebenSat.1 following an agreement with media
company KirchMedia. The group of Saban and five
private equity firms will raise its stake to 50.5 per
cent from 37.6 per cent, as KirchMedia's unit Taurus
TV sells a 12.9 per cent stake to finance payments to
creditors Axel Springer and Universal Studios. Saban,
took control of ProSiebenSat.1 in August 2003 by
buying a 36 per cent stake, with 72 per cent of the
voting rights, from bankrupt KirchMedia. Meanwhile,
the administrator of KirchMedia announced that the
company's unit Taurus TV has ended insolvency
proceedings after reaching an agreement with
creditors. Universal Studios, owned by General
Electric, will receive a 'confidential payment,'
KirchMedia said. Europe's largest newspaper publisher
Axel Springer, will get 1.8 per cent of ProSiebenSat.1
shares from Kirch, increasing its stake in TV
broadcaster from 10.2 per cent to 12 per cent, as part
of a settlement and will also get ?60.3 million from

After a general meeting of regional media regulators,
the AETN German subsidiary The History Channel has
obtained a licence to broadcast in the country. The
channel, which will be part of cable operator KDG's
digital bouquet, is launching September 27. KDG
reaches over 10 million homes of which currently
100,000 have subscribed to digital offers. In
addition, Disney's German unit has been licensed to
provide new thematic channels. Buena Vista Germany
intends to launch its classic animation channel 'Toon
Disney' and its pre-school offer 'Playhouse Disney',
after securing long term agreements with pay-TV


News Corp. Ltd should reach a deal on September 28 to
buy the remaining 20% of pay-TV broadcaster Sky Italia
it doesn't already own from Telecom Italia, a person
familiar with the situation told Dow Jones Newswires.
"The two companies are working to close the deal on
September 28 for the agreed price of ?88 million," the
person said.


The country's leading private commercial television
network, CTC, is set to spend $100 million on building
a new second-tier entertainment network. The
as-yet-unnamed network will target women viewers and a
broader age range than its current core youth
audience, CTC president and CEO Alexander Rodnyansky
said on September 22. The new network -- which will
launch in the spring -- will be based around a core of
four stations recently purchased in Moscow, St.
Petersburg, Perm and Kazan, and comes as part of a
strategic market restructuring that includes a change
of name for the network's parent company from
StoryFirst Communications to CTC Media.

Digital television will come to Moscow in two years,
Russian Television and Radio Broadcasting Network
Director Gennady Sklyar said. He pointed out that
there was just one digital transmitter for channel 32
on the Ostankino television tower. However, Pavel
Komarov, the Deputy General Director of the Ostankino
television tower, noted that some 4 to 5 new digital
channels would be launched by the end of 2004. A $1
million transmitter for Channel One, which is capable
of broadcasting programs in digital format, was
launched on November 1, 2003. However, this
transmitter is not used in a digital mode since there
are no legal procedures on transferring from analogue
to digital television broadcast.


Pay-TV operator Sogecable said on September 21 that it
has reached landmark deals with some of the country's
independent distributors for specific titles to
complete its programming lineup. The deals end a
drought for acquisitions by the Spanish giant for
content from Spanish distributors brought on by the
backlog of titles after the merger of Sogecable and
rival platform Via Digital last year. The deals --
signed with Golem, Vertigo, Wanda, Musidora and Alta
Films -- are for as many as a dozen specific, already
released titles with distributors that Sogecable felt
are key to completing its quality programming slate.

Media group Prisa confirmed it is going to raise its
shares in pay-TV group Sogecable up to 24 per cent
over the next months. Announcing the news, CEO Juan
Luis Cebrian, said that the move is aimed at "making
our presence in Sogecable the same as Telefonica", so
keeping the balance of power within the company.
Currently, Prisa holds 22 per cent in the pay-TV
group. Since the merger between the two digital DTH
platforms, Canal Satelite and Via Digital to create
Digital Plus, in June 2003, Prisa has increased its
shares several times, from the initial 16 per cent up
to the present 22 per cent.


Modern Times Group on September 23 announced that its
application to the Swedish Market Court for a court
injunction to prohibit Canal Digital from mentioning
Viasat's TV3, ZTV and TV8 entertainment channels in
its marketing material has had the desired result.
Canal Digital has notified the Market Court that it
has changed its marketing accordingly and has assured
the Court that the Viasat Channels will not be used in
future marketing campaigns or materials. No injunction
is therefore required at this time. The Viasat
channels therefore continue to be available only to
subscribers on the Viasat DTH satellite platform, the
Boxer digital terrestrial network in Sweden and cable
networks with which Viasat has agreements.


According to a public poll conducted by the
state-owned Turkish Radio and Television Corporation
(TRT), they are the most watched television channel in
the country. The results of the face to face survey
conducted on 2,140 people in 15 cities in May and June
show that 97.3 per cent of people watch TV, and TRT
was the most watched channel with 17 per cent. Show TV
followed with 14.1 per cent, ATV with 13.9 per cent,
Kanal D with 13.1 and Star TV with 8.4 per cent. TRT
shows between 6 and 9 p.m. were the ones most watched,
with culture and magazine programs being the most
popular, noted the poll. Of those polled, 72.87 per
cent listed the travel documentary "Gezelim Gorelim"
as their favorite program on the channel, while the
local music show "Yorelerimiz Turkulerimiz" came
second with 64.49 per cent. The dramas on TRT were
also very popular among those polled. When asked what
type of programs they wanted to watch on TV, 18.6 per
cent said foreign movies and documentaries. More local
dramas came second with 18.1 per cent. When asked
about which news programs they watched, TRT was also
the most popular. TRT news programs were watched by 33
per cent, while ATV received 15, Kanal D 13.4 and Show
TV 11.6 per cent. Among channels that exclusively
broadcast news, NTV was the most popular with 48.3 per
cent, followed by CNN-Turk with 28.9 and TRT-2 with
15.8 per cent. When asked how trustworthy they found
the TV channels, participants' answer showed that the
TRT-1 was the most trusted, with 32.8 per cent,
followed by NTV (14 per cent), CNN-Turk (8.8 per
cent), ATV (7.7 per cent), Kanal 7 (7.1 per cent) and
TRT-2 (5.9 per cent).


Sparsely populated Border TV region has emerged as
favourite to be the digital television guinea pig for
the UK, but large parts of the area, including much of
West Cumbria, still cannot receive the digital
terrestrial signal. Thousands of TV sets and videos
would be rendered useless without digital Freeview
boxes when the analogue signal is turned off. And
research shows only 43 per cent of Cumbrian households
have satellite TV, which will continue work after the
switchover. Freeview boxes currently retail at
Ł50 upwards and one digital box will be needed
for each TV set in the home. This week it emerged that
the regular over-the-air analogue services will be
phased out nationwide by 2012. The Government has
always vowed not to switch off the analogue network
until the majority of homes have upgraded to digital.
But some believe the Border region will be used to
find out what level of uptake is politically

ITV has sold its stake in Thomson, the French media
and information group. According to the Financial
Times, ITV has agreed to sell 5.5 per cent of Thomson,
with a book value of 162 million, to the investment
banks Citigroup and UBS. ITV said it will use the
proceeds to pay down its debt. This is ITV's second
sale of non-core businesses. The first was Carlton
Books in August.

The BBC's teletext service - Ceefax - celebrated its
30th anniversary this week. Launched on September 23,
1974, Ceefax was developed by BBC broadcast engineers
who were working on ways of providing subtitles for
the deaf. They found that a normal television picture
of 625 lines has "spare" lines at the top of the
picture that could be used to transmit words or
numbers. The first time the public heard the name
Ceefax - which stands for See-Facts - was late in
1972, in advance of the first experimental
transmissions. It went live in 1974 but one of the
early problems was it cost more than 300 to buy a
decoder and 700 for a new set. But as prices dropped,
demand grew and by 1985, the number of TV sets with
access to Ceefax was more than two million. The
service now has more than 20 million viewers a week.

The Football League is launching legal action against
the solicitors who advised them on the ITV Digital
deal that fell apart in 2002. Many clubs outside the
top flight were left in financial limbo after ITV
Digital went into administration in March of that year
owing 178.5 million for the remaining two seasons of
its contract with the League. Some clubs ended up in
administration as a result and the League are now
suing law firm Hammonds Solicitors for alleged
negligence or breach of contract. Sir Brian Mawhinney,
the Football League chairman, has confirmed that High
Court proceedings have been issued against Hammonds,
previously known as Edge Ellison, the legal advisors
to the League during contract negotiations with ITV
Digital in 2000. The last legal action by the League
over the ITV Digital contract ended in defeat two
years ago when they failed in their efforts to make
ITV parent companies Carlton and Granada pay up
instead. The deal struck in June 2000 gave ONDigital
the right to broadcast Football League matches for
three seasons from 2001/2 but in the already-inflated
TV market it proved prohibitively costly. Television
audiences for matches were often outnumbered by crowds
at the games and the TV channel collapsed after less
than a season.

BT is to go head-to-head with BSkyB in the pay-TV
markets by launching its own digital set-top box in
conjunction with Freeview. The telecoms giant will
this week begin trials of the box, initally dubbed "BT
Freeview Plus", which will provide customers with
digital TV through a conventional TV aerial and
video-on-demand through a broadband internet
connection. It will become the central element in BT's
"new wave" strategy, which seeks to replace declining
revenues from traditional services, such as fixed-line
phonecalls, with new services such as broadband
Internet. The hybrid TV/internet device will cost
marginally more than existing Freeview boxes, which
retail at around 50. But customers will be able to
pay to download films and thousands of programmes
using their BT broadband internet connection. BT has
already secured the support of the BBC and a number of
other broadcasters for the service. TV stations that
already broadcast on Freeview include Channel 4, Five,
Ideal World, FTN, QVC, and the Community Channel.
Unlike the Sky Plus box, BT Freeview Plus will not
have a hard disk, so it will be able to record and
store downloaded programmes. Trials of BT Freeview
Plus will begin this week with just a few hundred
pre-selected customers. Subcribers will be slowly
built up over the next few months with a full
commercial launch planned for next summer.

The Advert Channel has signed a three-year contract
with independent global communications company,
Inmedia, that will see Britain get its first 24 hour
TV station dedicated solely to airing adverts.
Broadcasting on the Sky digital satellite channel 694,
the Advert Channel is dedicated to bringing viewers
the best (and worst) TV adverts from around the world,
with a focus on adverts as a form of entertainment,
culture and from an artistic and creative aspect.
Programmes on the station will include Ad Chat, where
presenters will chat live about the top TV adverts;
Advert Focus, looking at ads making the news; Adverts
for You, featuring the adverts that make you laugh,
cry and those that are controversial; and Adverts
Today, a behind-the-scenes look at how top adverts are
made. Themed shows will focus on commercials of a
certain era and segments, such as ads from the 60's,
70's, 80's and 90's, late night adverts, sports and
celebrity adverts. The deal will ensure the smooth
delivery of the new channel's 24 hour programming to
Sky's 7.3 million subscribers using Inmedia's
fully-managed playout and satellite uplinking via its
Eurobird transponder.