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Vivendi ‘set to launch’ Italian version of Canal+ with TIM

The Vivendi office is seen in Paris on Wednesday, May 17, 2006.Locked in an epic legal battle with its original preferred partner in the Italian market, Vivendi is set to launch a parallel TV initiative in partnership with Telecom Italia (TIM), according to French financial daily Les Echos.

According to the paper, citing unnamed sources, Vivendi has decided to launch a premium channel, named Canale+, with Telecom Italia as the majority owner. The service will be an Italian version of the French Canal+ offering series, sport and live programming.

According to Les Echos, the service will be a JV between Telecom Italia and Canal+, and will both acquire rights and develop its own original series. Canal+’s management will provide its expertise, notably in the acquisition of sports rights.

Vivendi remains locked in legal combat with Mediaset. The French media giant struck a deal to acquire the Italian broadcaster’s pay TV unit Mediaset Premium last year, before changing its mind over what it claimed were misrepresentations about the pay TV operator’s finances. Mediaset vigorously contested Vivendi’s account and the matter is currently subject to a legal process.

Italian regulator AGCOM ruled in April that Vivendi could not simultaneously hold stakes in Telecom Italia, in which it is the largest single shareholder, and Mediaset, in which it acquired a significant stake in a series of moves in the run up to the end of last year.

The latest move by Vivendi comes as Telecom Italia agreed a ‘consensual termination’ deal with its CEO, Flavio Cattaneo.

The telco said that, under Cattaneo’s stewardship, it had achieved an unprecedented turnaround thanks to a programme of cost-cutting and investing in its core business. The company said it would continue on the path set by its CEO, prioritizing the rollout of fibre.

Cattaneo is leaving early after a reported falling out with Vivendi, in part because the French group planned to appoint its chief convergence officer Amos Genish as managing director alongside him to give it more influence.

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