Around the World


A group of investors, including buyout firms Quadrangle and GS Capital Partners have agreed to pay $1.03 billion to buy Norwegian cable operator GET, which serves some 370,000 homes, from buyout firm Candover, which acquired the cabler for $651 million in early 2006.

In Belgium, cable operator Telenet has dramatically expanded its footprint by paying $249 million to a several smaller operators so Telenet can use their networks to market its services to about 800,000 customers in Flanders.

As part of its expanding Eastern Europe operations, RTL Group has partnered with Continental Finance Group to develop thematic channels for the Russian market. Under the agreement, RTL will buy 50% of the joint venture, which will own four of CFG’s thematic channels, for an undisclosed sum. RTL already owns 30% of Russian broadcast network Ren TV, which will continue to be operated outside the joint venture.

On the earnings front, German broadcaster ProSiebenSat.1’s profits were hurt by the impact of the merger with SBS and an antitrust fine, producing a pretax loss of $152 million as revenue increased 55% to $980 million.

At the Asian Television Forum, Disney ABC International announced deals with 13 broadcasters in the region and the Singapore government inked memoranda of understanding with France and the Philippines to work more closely together in variety of ways, including training and co-productions.

Vivendi plans to launch a new digital content platform for mobile and PCs in France in January 2008. The service is expected to bow later in Germany and the U.K.

Virgin Media announced that its subscribers viewed some 30 million individual programs on its VOD platform in October; the operator expects Virgin VOD to be the third or fourth most watched channel on its network by the end of this year.

Danish movie network Skandinavia TV next spring will launch a VOD service, Movieropa, which will offer content from 125 Scandinavian film producers.

In the U.K., Paramount Pictures Digital Entertainment has inked a deal to make 150 films available on BT Vision.

Telefónica has announced plans to make its IPTV service Imagenio available on mobile in the first half of 2008 in Europe; the service will allow users to access on-demand content, EPGs and other services.

On the HD front, regulators in the U.K. have announced plans to upgrade the country’s DTT platform Freeview so that it could begin offering HD channels in 2009.

Separately, all major U.K. broadcast networks -- BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Five -- have agreed to work together to offer HD channels on Freeview.

In France, Disney announced that its Disney Cinemagic began broadcasting in HD on Nov. 30; it is the company’s first HD channel in Europe.

TV Globo has started digital HD broadcasts of some of its productions and news programs.

Setanta Sports and Virgin Media have launched a free-to-air Setanta Sports News channel that will be available on Virgin’s cable network and on digital satellite in the U.K. The channel is designed to replace the Sky Sports News service that was removed from Virgin as part of its ongoing carriage dispute with BSkyB’s basic channels.

Separately, Setanta Sports has raised an additional $190 million to acquire sports rights. The company plans to use the funds to challenge BSkyB’s long-standing dominance of sports rights in the U.K.

Disney Channel has announced that it will join BSkyB’s proposed DTT pay TV bouquet, making it the first channel not owned by Sky to announce plans to launch on the platform.

Warner Bros. is planning to launch a Warner TV VOD service on the on demand platforms of Virgin Media and BT Vision.

French broadcaster M6 and four of its thematic channels have launched on the CanalSat Mobile offering from Vodafone.

Italian broadcaster RAI has rebranded its international channel operations as RAI Italia and announced plans to launch four new international channels.

The History Channel and Crime & Investigation Network are launching on Top Up TV’s pay DTT platform in the U.K.

Italian broadcaster Mediaset has announced plans to launch two new channels, Iris and Bis, on the digital terrestrial TV.

NBC Universal has launched local versions of Sci Fi and the Universal Channel in Poland on ITI Neovision’s n DTH platform.

In the Czech Republic, TV Nova has launched a film channel Nova Cinema on cable and satellite.

Residential downstream speeds have continued to increase in every region of the world in the third quarter of 2007, with the Asia Pacific Region showing a 130% increase in average speeds, according to a new report from Point Topic.

Also on the speed front, Virgin Media has confirmed that it will begin offering Internet speeds of up to 50 Mbps by the end of 2008.