French media giant Vivendi Universal has agreed to acquire a controlling interest in rival TPS which it will merge with its pay-TV satellite arm Canal Plus

The takeover, first mooted last week [WAMN: 13-Dec-05], will give Vivendi 85% of the new group for around €5 billion ($6bn; £3.4bn). TPS is currently jointly owned by French channels TF1 and M6, both of which will retain a small stake.

A statement by the companies claims there is no logic in having two satellite pay-TV offerings in France: "The situation, which is exceptional in Europe and now appears to be inappropriate, has resulted in a fragmented and incomplete range of products to the detriment of the customer."

The companies add their alliance will support the French film industry and give wider coverage to sport.

The move, which will be subject to approval by regulatory authorities in France, is the realization of Vivendi's long-held vision for the country's satellite market.

Comments ceo Jean-Bernard Levy: "French pay TV is fragmented, and our aim is to simplify it for consumers and give the market more dynamism."

The deal is expected to close in the second half of 2006.

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal Online and BBC Online; additional content by WARC staff