Spain's La Sexta, Antena 3 Halt Merger Talks

Spanish broadcasters cite “short-term irreconcilable differences.”

MADRID -- Spanish broadcasters La Sexta and Antena 3 have “short-term irreconcilable differences” and have frozen merger talks, according to La Sexta CEO Jose Miguel Contreras.

“Given the present media panorama in Spain, the only reasonable merger would be Antena 3 and La Sexta. Those of us who negotiated the failed agreement, weren’t able to satisfy the other side,” Contreras said. “I don’t dismiss the possibility that talks could reopen as long as the positions on both sides that led to the breaking off of talks soften.”

Contreras also said the channel was considering a public offer of stock to access “new resources” that would allow it to go head-to-head with its rivals within the next five years.

The comments come as the channel celebrates its fifth anniversary.

Contreras said the company would maintain the profitability achieved in 2010 and that shareholders -- including Mediapro and Televisa -- made the final cash infusion in June of last year and that the channel would now function exclusively based on its advertising revenues, which grew 40 percent in 2010.

Contreras also said that the channel had a “firm desire” to keep hold of the coveted Formula 1, Spanish professional soccer league and basketball league rights, but that it expected rival broadcaster Telecinco to challenge those rights this year.

“When we beat Telecinco in the previous bid, they accused us of making a disproportionate offer, not in keeping with the market. I would bet today that in 2013, there will be two offers from our bigger rivals in line with what La Sexta is paying right now,” Contreras told Spanish news agency Europa Press.