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Canal Plus to take 60% stake in Bolloré’s FTA business

French pay TV group Canal Plus is set to buy a 60% stake in Bolloré’s free-to-air business, including channels Direct 8 and Star.

The deal will see Canal Plus owner Vivendi giving Bolloré shares worth approximately €279 million. The total value of the assets is estimated at a maximum of €465 million.

Canal Plus Group will take over the operational management of the two channels and of their advertising sales division.

The deal would give Bolloré Group’s television business the backing of one of Europe’s leading broadcasting companies. It will also strengthen Canal Plus’s free TV presence.

Canal Plus CEO Bertrand Meheut said: “This partnership is intended to prepare the Canal Plus Group for the arrival in the television sector of new operators such as Apple, Netflix, Google, etc. In a context in which these global players have enormous resources and the consumer is confronted with an abundance of choice, the company’s entry into the free television market will enable it to strengthen its capacity to produce distinctive content and enhance its editorial lines with high-quality programmes, while using all available operating media to exploit those programmes.”

Separately, Thomson Video Networks has announced that Canal Plus Overseas has begun a migration to Thomson technology for its digital headend serving Indian Ocean territories. The newly equipped platform, located in Boulogne, France, near Paris, will be rolled out by November 2011, transmitting 90 SD and HD channels, all encoded in MPEG-4 format.

Canal Plus Overseas is replacing its existing infrastructure with a combination of Thomson Video Networks products, including ViBE EM2002 dual-channel SD encoders, ViBE EM3000 HD encoders, and NetProcessor 9030 multiplexers. In 2012, Canal Plus will upgrade to Thomson’s new ViBE EM4000 multichannel HD encoder.

Canal Plus Overseas, a subsidiary of the leading French pay-TV operator Canal+ Group, is the largest French-language operator in the French Overseas Territories and Africa, and provides more than 300 channels to viewers in the Caribbean, Indian Ocean, and Pacific regions.