Telefónica buys stake in Mediaset pay-TV business

Spanish operator Telefónica has agreed to spend €100 million ($136 million) on an 11.1% stake in Italian media group Mediaset’s pay-TV business.

The deal follows Telefónica’s acquisition of a 22% stake in Spanish firm Distribuidora de Televisión (DTS) – which operates the Canal+ platform – as it increases its presence in the pay-TV segment.

Pay-TV services are struggling worldwide in the light of increasing costs for TV rights, but the deal with Telefónica saw Mediaset’s shares rise 3% to €3.80 per share.

Mediaset – owned by former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi – said it would migrate its pay-TV activities to a new company with an equity value of €900 million, and last week the company was said to be in talks with Qatari broadcaster Al Jazeera over potential co-operation in the Italian pay-TV unit.

The former PM’s son, Pier Silvio Berlusconi, deputy chairman at Mediaset, told local reporters it was also in talks with France’s Vivendi.

“There is nothing concrete, but we are talking to other partners that would give us access to the English-speaking market, the world’s first market followed by the Spanish one,” Berlusconi said.

A further European player, Greek operator OTE, is also eyeing pay-TV services with the potential acquisition of Forthnet’s Nova business.