Monday, 15 June 2009

Canal Plus eyes over 1 mln Vietnam subs in 3 yrs

PARIS, June 15 (Reuters) - French pay-TV group Canal Plus said on Monday it targeted over 1 million subscribers in Vietnam within three years, with the launch of a pay-TV channel by the end of this year, run jointly with state-run television VTV.

This first foray by Canal Plus outside of Europe and Africa is the result of negotiations which started in 2003, and is part of the Vivendi (VIV.PA) unit's strategy of pursuing regions with high potential, amid slowing subscriber growth in France.

"We have several other advanced projects, but not as symbolic as this one," Canal Plus head Bertrand Meheut said after a press conference on Monday.

Canal Plus Groupe will hold 49 percent of the joint company -- versus 51 percent for VCTV, a unit of VTV -- but will run operations via its Canal Overseas unit, with around 60 channels planned by the end of this year.

Meheut estimated that Canal Plus invested around $50 million, with the goal of breaking even after two years of operations.

Vietnam has 22 million households, of which 97 percent have at least one television, but less than 8 percent of these subscribe to a pay-TV channel, Canal Plus said.

Canal Plus has over two million subscribers and makes 20 percent of its total sales outside France. The group saw its total number of subscribers in France drift to 10.4 million at the end of March, compared to 10.6 million at the end of December, and is banking on "slight growth in 2009".

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