Orange eyes selling movie channels to Canal Plus

Official announcement expected soon

PARIS -- French pay TV rivals Canal Plus and Orange may be making love and not war with the media groups contemplating a 50-50 merger, French newspapers Le Figaro and La Tribune reported.

France Telecom subsidiary Orange may sell its movie channels via Orange Cinema Series to Vivendi's Canal Plus, giving Canal Plus once again the monopoly over that market after gobbling up then-rival group TPS back in 2007.

The new venture would see Canal Plus adding Orange Cinema Series to its already existing TPS Star film channel to its package. The merger would represent a ceasefire between the two major media groups that have been battling each other both in the Gallic media and among potential subscribers since Orange launched its pay TV movie package in the Fall of 2008.

The rumored changes come as little surprise after France Telecom's new CEO Stephane Richard recently announced his plans to invest in more content partners, specifically for its Orange movie and sport channels that are currently available only to its ADSL broadband subscribers.

Both Canal Plus and France Telecom declined comment. The two groups, however, will announce their financial results for the first-half of the year this week -- Vivendi on Wednesday, France Telecom on Thursday -- so an official announcement for a merger may not be far off.
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