Telefonica is reportedly in talks for Al Jazeera to take a significant stake in Canal Plus to ease regulatory concerns from the CNMC and give green light to Telefonica’s takeover of the Spanish pay-TV platform.
In May, Telefonica agreed to purchase the 56 per cent stake in Digital+ owned by Prisa for €750 million before subsequently agreeing to acquire Mediaset’s 22 per cent stake in Digital+ for an initial €295 million.
But regulator CNMC has yet to approve the deal and recent reports have suggested that it is likely to impose strict conditions, such as the requirement to open up the content of Digital+ to rivals Vodafone-Ono and Orange. The European Commission has also expressed concerns that the proposed merger would give Telefonica control of 80 per cent of Spain’s pay-TV market.
Qatar’s Al Jazeera is said to be particularly interested in the rights to live Spanish football matches owned by Canal Plus. In February Telefonica signed a one-season rights deal with Barcelona for 2015-16 and the company recently announced that it is planning to double Movistar TV subscribers to 4 million this year.
Qatar has a €30 million a year shirt sponsorship deal with Barcelona through the Qatar Foundation.