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Realignment in European TV ownership

THE recently established media group Vivendi Universal has announced plans to establish its own sports network in competition with Eurosport. The Paris-based group announced that it is to sell subsidiary Canal Plus's share in Eurosport to rival TF1 and launch its own Paneuropean service.

Eurosport has dominated the market since it was founded in 1989 and now broadcasts in 17 languages and has a viewership of 18m a day. Vivendi now planes to negotiate for sports TV rights.

Vivendi was linked with a takeover of the Prost team last summer but the deal fell through. Vivendi boss Jean-Marie Messier says that he aims to make Vivendi Universal "the largest and most powerful media house in the world" and so an involvement in F1 would make a lot of sense. Canal Plus already owns the digital TV rights to F1 racing but may now negotiate for the paneuropean TV rights. This could have an effect on the existing deals in Germany and Italy but a deal may be structured in such as a way as to allow Canal Plus to buy the Paneuropean rights for F1 in different languages.

Whatever the case the deals should help Bernie Ecclestone raise more money from the sale of his digital TV service.

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