Canal Plus Polska has accused rival Polish satellite
platform At Entertainment of deliberately "misrepresenting the situation"
concerning a Sept. 18 "buy" recommendation issued for At Entertainment by
investment bank Merrill Lynch & Co.
The spat is the latest round between the two competitors,
which were once paired to launch a joint platform, but which are now bitterly fighting on
The Merrill report said At Entertainment's Wizja TV
bouquet had "exclusive sports, movies and original programming," listing
Universal Studios Network and Sundance Channel as part of At Entertainment's lineup,
while a near-empty list was shown for Canal Plus.
In fact, Universal Studios and Paramount Pictures have
signed on as exclusive suppliers to the Canal Plus-backed bouquet in Poland.
Canal Plus Polska confirmed at the MIPCOM program market in
Cannes, France, earlier this month that it had signed multiyear exclusive deals with
Universal and Paramount, and that it had also secured exclusive rights to sports channel
Eurosport, for its digital direct-to-home and cable distribution platforms in Poland.
At Entertainment's Wizja TV launched last month. Canal
Plus Polska is slated to launch the first leg of its platform next week, including about
Lew Rywin, Canal Plus Polska's president, said the
company is considering legal options "because the Merrill Lynch document has been
sent to investors all over the world, and it misrepresents the situation -- especially to
investment firms in the United States."
At Entertainment officials did not return calls seeking
comment on the matter.
Merrill Lynch analyst Frank Knowles, who issued the report,
said his company had received a "relatively formal" letter from Canal Plus
Polska. Knowles said he will visit Warsaw, Poland, soon to examine the DTH service's
prospects. He declined to comment on the spat, other than to say that the Universal and
Paramount announcements were made subsequent to the release of his report.
Rywin complained bitterly about what he termed At
Entertainment's "long list of misannouncements."
"At Entertainment has been announcing to analysts and
journalists for months that they have a deal with Universal. It simply was not true,"
Rywin said. "They have consistently misstated the position. It is the same with
Sundance Channel, which they say they have, but I can assure you that we have the Sundance
proposal. At Entertainment said they have a deal with Eurosport. It's not true: We
signed them two weeks ago."