Spain's Big 3 slip by 4% in fragmenting market

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MADRID -- Increased fragmentation in the market hurt Spain's three biggest broadcasters, which lost a combined four points off their annual audience share, according to official year-end figures from audience measuring entity Sofres.

Private channel Telecinco, controlled by Italian media group Mediaset, maintained its lead with 20.3% of the audience, compared with 2006's 21.2%.

Rival commercial network Antena 3 saw its share drop from 19.4% in 2006 to 17.4% in 2007 and pubcaster Television Espanola's (TVE) main channel dropped from 18.3% to 17.2% to take third place.

Fledgling channels Cuatro, owned by television powerhouse Sogecable, and La Sexta, controlled by the holding formed by Spanish TV production houses Mediapro and Grupo Arbol-Imagina, saw their shares grow. Cuatro skipped up from 6.4% to 7.7% in 2007, while La Sexta grew from 1.8% to 4% of the audience.

TV movie "Shrek the Halls," which ran on Antena 3 on Dec. 25 was the year's most-watched movie, with 37.3% of the audience and more than 6.8 million viewers.

A town hall-style interview on TVE in April with main opposition leader Mariano Rajoy was the most-watched program, with 34.9% of the audience and 6.3 million viewers.

Spaniards watched an average of six minutes more television in 2007, with 223 minutes a day.
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