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By | September 26, 2001

      One of the repercussions of the Vivendi-Universal merger is that it is getting increasingly difficult to get detailed information on the activity of subsidiaries. Interspace did manage to glean one piece of information during the round of press conferences for the autumn schedules of the Multithematiques channels, namely that the unit is looking to further international expansion.

      Multithematiques is the channel development subsidiary. Its shareholders, alongside Canal+, are Lagardere and Liberty Media. It currently produces 20 channels, distributed in 10 countries, under nine trade umbrella names, bringing in total sales of E200 million. Bruno Thibaudeau, the group’s recently appointed Director-General, said “We aim to consolidate our channels in the countries where we are present and to develop new international territories, such as Asia and South Africa.” The evolution would be either by internal growth or by acquisition. “It is important to develop the channels in Europe.” Interspace asked about plans to launch a channel in the UK, but he said that this was “not a priority.” The German version of the Seasons channel was recently withdrawn as it does “not correspond to the needs of the market”, as have been all of the Wishline channels. Multithematiques has also acquired the AlloCiné channel, previously held by Canal Numedia. The channel carries movie trailers and interviews with cinematic personalities.

      From now until January 2002, all of the group’s channels will undergo a “complete renovation”, getting a new look with new onscreen branding as well as fine tuning the schedules. The cult Canal Jimmy, which has just celebrated its tenth birthday, is to get similar treatment. New shows include the Ali-G show, Six Feet Under, Metrosexuality and Small Potatoes. The channel will offer a branded block each evening around a specific theme. The channel has just introduced the multilingual option, enabling digital viewers to choose whether they watch in original language with subtitles or dubbed in French. Up to now the channel had specialised in original version/subtitles. “Hardened Trek fans don’t want the slightest change, but many viewers want to watch in their own language. We now give them the choice.” The channel is increasing own production and is upping its acquisition budget for series, compensated by dropping motor sports and magazines related to motor sports.

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