Sony nears Hungarian channels acquisition

Sony Pictures Television is set to finalise its acquisition of Modern Times Group’s Hungarian Viasat3 and Viasat6 TV channels and Viasat Play VOD service after gaining regulatory approval.

Lyle StewartSPT said that it expects to close the deal in the coming days after getting the green light from the Hungarian Competition Authority.

The news comes a day after MTG separately announced it is selling its Russian and international pay TV channel businesses.

Once the SPT-MTG deal is complete, Sony will fully own and operate the two free-to-air Viasat channels and their associated Hungarian VOD service, expanding its current portfolio of brands in the country – which already includes the AXN, AXN White and AXN Black linear channels and the two digital services AXN NOW and AXN Player.

“This acquisition is a cornerstone to increasing our foothold in the central European market, and will provide countless benefits to our business partners and viewers,” said Lyle Stewart, senior vice president, SPT Networks, CEEMA (pictured).

“We are focused on further growing our business over the coming months, building on the considerable success our channels and digital services have already had.”

SPT, which first announced it was buying the Hungarian assets in February, said that Viasat3 will continue to target women aged 18-39 as a general entertainment channel, while Viasat6 will still target a young male audience with movies, action and comedy series.

Both channels will continue to be carried by the main cable and satellite operators in Hungary and SPT estimates that, after the deal closes, it will have a 6.3% audience share of the 18-49 demographic in Hungary.

John Rossiter, general manager, SPT Networks, central Europe, said the channels will “make a great addition to our existing portfolio, allowing us to establish multiple strong brands in the market”.

“This acquisition makes us the second biggest cable/satellite channel portfolio in the country in terms of audience share and is a milestone in our plans to boost SPT’s position in central Europe,” he added.

This week MTG said it had completed the sale of its Russian and international pay TV channel businesses for a total of US$45.5 million, ahead of the implementation of changes to Russian media law that will limit foreign ownership of companies.

Russian company LLC Sinerdzhi has acquired the Russian channels business, while Sabiero Holdings Limited, a subsidiary of private equity firm Baring Vostok, has acquired MTG’s international channels business.