Mediaset Denies Reports Of Letter From Vivendi, But It Is Open To Talks Of Alliance


By Jonathan Easton

Italian broadcaster Mediaset has denied reports that it received a letter from France’s Vivendi calling for a truce between the pair.

The companies have been sparring over Mediaset’s long-held plans to create a pan-European media group – dubbed MediaForEurope (MFE) – with Vivendi opposing the move as a power grab. Vivendi, which owns 29 per cent of Mediaset, has maintained that the move is designed to enhance the Burlesconi family’s control of the group of which it already owns 44 per cent.

The animosity stems as far back as 2016, when Vivendi bailed out of an agreement to buy Mediaset’s pay TV unit. The French company subsequently built up a significant stake in Mediaset, which the Italian broadcaster considered to be hostile.

Earlier this week, Italian newspaper MF reported that Vivendi had written to Mediaset’s board with a proposal of a 50-50 European TV joint venture – a move which would give Vivendi a far greater say in the operations of MFE.

That however was bluntly refuted by Mediaset, with the company issuing a statement that it had “not received any letter from Vivendi’s board to form an alliance in Europe.” The statement added however that Mediaset would evaluate any proposal put to it.

Mediaset has maintained that the creation of MFE would serve to help the European TV industry cope with the increasing competition from US streamers like Netflix and Amazon.

Following a European Court of Justice ruling in favour of Vivendi in September, the companies’ respective CEOs re-established contact and it is believed that the pair are on better working terms now than in recent years.

However, the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic – which has significantly impacted both firms’ native countries – has created industry-wide uncertainty and led to no breakthrough in talks.

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