Italy’s Dahlia TV faced with financial problems

Italian pay-TV operator Dahlia TV could see a capital increase or the arrival of new shareholders early in 2011.

The platform owned by the Sweden’s AirPlus, which took over Telecom Italia Media’s pay-TV unit, La7 Cartapiù in spring 2009, is faced with liquidity problems, despite successfully concluding an E80 million refinancing package in August 2010.

The origins for the crisis can be traced to the reduction of subscriber figures and the drop in smart-card sales during the 2010/2011 football season, following the exit from Dahlia’s bouquet of Palermo and Fiorentina. The two Serie A football clubs have since switched to rival pay-TV operator Mediaset Premium, thanks to new formula of collective selling of TV rights.

Over the weekend, Filmaster, an outsourcing company which handles production for Dahlia TV, announced that all programming will be aired in reduced form until further notice, because of the backlog of payments due for services provided.

Dahlia TV owns the TV rights to eight Serie A football clubs and the entire Serie B and currently has some 850,000 subscribers.

The situation is likely to be resolved in January, with several options on the table. Another capital increase or the arrival of a new shareholder is most likely, although there is even talk of Telecom Italia Media, which still owns 10 per cent of Dahlia TV, buying back its pay-TV channels.

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