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PARIS – French pay TV group Canal Plus officially expanded its media empire into digital territory on Friday with the acquisition of the Bollore Group’s free-to-air channels.
The Vivendi-owned Canal Plus signed a definitive agreement to buy and run Bollore’s Direct 8 and Direct Star and its ad sales division. The move is part of a two-step agreement that also gives Canal Plus the option to acquire everything at one time in exchange for 22.4 million Vivendi shares.
France is now completely digital after the country finalized its analog to digital switchover earlier in the week. The deal will give Canal Plus total control of Direct 8 and Direct Star, both of which have niche audiences already and will reach even more people now that the analog signal has been turned off nationwide.
The deal is part of Canal Plus’ attempt to defend its company against the arrival of internet companies like Netflix, Apple and Google.
The agreement values the channels at €465 million ($645 million). The deal still needs to be approved by French competition and media authorities.
Traditional terrestrial TV companies like TF1 and M6 haven’t been pleased with Canal Plus’ foray into the free DDT world urging that the moves gives Canal Plus an unfair monopoly over the sector.
Vincent Bollore is also the largest shareholder in advertising group Havas and media group Aegis.
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