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Vivendi lining up Italian pay-television platform – report

French media group Vivendi is pursuing plans to form an Italian pay-television platform in association with its Telecom Italia and Groupe Canal subsidiaries, according to Les Echos.

The French newspaper said the platform would be branded Canale + and be modelled on the existing French broadcaster, offering a mix of sports and entertainment programming.

Les Echos said Telecom Italia would be the majority shareholder in the venture, with its board having already agreed to the proposal.

Such a platform would compete head-on with the pay-television unit of Italian broadcaster Mediaset entitled Mediaset Premium.

In May, Vivendi secured European Union antitrust approval for its plan to gain control of Telecom Italia after the European Commission said it had agreed to sell the Italian telecommunications company’s majority stake in broadcasting services group Persidera.

Vivendi became the main shareholder in Telecom Italia in June 2015 and strengthened its hold earlier in May by appointing two thirds of its board. Telecom Italia currently owns 70 per cent of Persidera, while Vivendi is also engaged in a battle with Italian regulators over its intentions in the market.

Vivendi in April said it was considering legal action after Italian communications authority AGCOM ordered it to cut its stake in either Mediaset or Telecom Italia within a year.

Vivendi is the single biggest shareholder in Italy’s main telco, with 24 per cent, and has recently built up an interest of around 28.8-per-cent in Mediaset. Vivendi and Mediaset are currently engaged in a bitter dispute.

Mediaset, one of the leading sports broadcasters in Italy, is seeking damages from Vivendi after it stepped away from an April 2016 agreement to take full control of pay-television broadcaster Mediaset Premium.