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Sogecable Loses Key Rights

By | July 9, 2007

      In a major blow to its pay-TV aspirations, Sogecable, which operates the Digital+ direct-to-home satellite platform, has lost the blue-chip Spanish soccer rights in Spain to Mediapro, a Spanish audiovisual rights company.

      The broadcasting rights through the 2008-2009 season are held by AVS, which is 75 percent owned by Sogecable and 25 percent by Mediapro. Mediapro announced July 5 that it has signed most of the top Spanish teams to an exclusive broadcast rights deal to run for five seasons starting with the 2009-2010 season.

      Sogecable has filed a lawsuit claiming the move is in breach of contract, but “Sogecable now faces a period of uncertainty,” media equity analyst Nick Bell of Bear Stearns said in a research note. “There is a huge range of scenarios ahead, from Sogecable winning the legal battle through to facing big cost increases on the football rights and even losing them altogether, either to another operator or as a result of an unbundling strategy by Mediapro.”

      Mediapro does not own a pay-TV station of its own and is likely to pre-sell the rights to the broadcasts, Bell said. “Sogecable does have the advantage currently of the largest subscriber base on its satellite platform of 2 million versus Ono’s 1 million on cable and 420,000 on Imagenio’s [Internet Protocol TV] service,” he said.

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