Spain's Telecinco Officially Takes Full Control of Cuatro, Digital Plus

The move makes the broadcast company Spain's largest media group.

MADRID -- Spanish broadcast group Telecinco took full control of Spanish media conglomerate Prisa's free-to-air channel Cuatro and 22% of its pay platform Digital Plus on Tuesday, becoming Spain's largest media group.

The deal, more than a year in the works, was finalized Tuesday -- along with telecom giant Telefonica's entrance into Digital Plus with a 22% stake. Prisa maintains the controlling 56% stake in the pay platform.
 
Prisa got a badly needed cash infusion of 976 million euros and a 17.36% stake in Telecinco, which owns a range of thematic TDT channels -- in addition to Spain's leading private national channel.
 
Telecinco now becomes a unique entity in Spain, with its in-house advertising branch, Publiespana, handling sales for a handful of different stations: group flagship and mainstream channel Telecinco; hip, urban channel Cuatro; fiction series channel Factoria de Ficcion; key programming highlights channel La Siete; children's programming channel Boing; and 24-hour reality show Big Brother channel.
 
"With today's operation, Telecinco creates a powerful free-TV television cluster," the company said in a statement. "With a diversity in profiles and with the objective of attending to the market's needs and contributing to its [the market's] continued growth, Publiespana will start a new commercial strategy as of next week aimed not only at advertisers but at media agencies, offering the best advertising product on television, always scrupulously respecting the commercial management conditions imposed by the [competition watchdog] CNC."
 
Each of the channels is expected to strengthen its programming within its respective niche. Cuatro will add Criminal Minds and NCIS: Los Angeles to its primetime lineup. Boing will add Malcolm in the Middle, while Factoria has added U.S. series like Friends and Medium.
 
One casualty of the deal is Prisa's 24-hour joint venture with Turner, CNN+, which will cease broadcasting Friday -- making way for the Big Brother channel.
 
Mario Rodriguez was named general corporative manager of Telecinco, answering to Telecinco CEO Paolo Vasile.
 

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