Advancing its free-to-air TV project, France’s Canal+ is to buy Bolloré TV’s national channels for €465 million to gain (scarce) licences for FTA terrestrial broadcast

Canal+ plans to leverage its library of original programming to attract upscale audiences, neglected by commercial rivals

However, the Vivendi investment case of a 9% return on capital is built on incompatible assumptions about profit margins and market share – to grow the latter in a mature market, a channel needs to sacrifice the former

Fiscal 2011 was a vintage year for Sky, which reported a 23% growth in operating profit and 51% increase in free cash flow as it started to reap the full benefits of its investment in multi-product growth

Q4 2011 showed signs that tougher economic conditions are starting to bite, although the sharp fall in TV product additions was balanced by a fourth consecutive bumper quarter in home communications, in which Sky outperformed the rest of the market

Strong focus on operating efficiencies and product innovation combined with big investment in UK originated content should position the company well as competitive pressures build in the medium- to long-term, at the same time as allowing continuing strong profit growth

This report provides our annual assessment and forecasts for recorded music sales and music publishing revenues, which engage all four of the ‘majors’ – Universal Music Group (UMG), EMI, Sony and Warner Music Group (WMG). In the context of the ongoing physical-to-digital transition of music consumption, retailing and buying, documented in the report, we estimate a 10% decline in recorded music sales to $18.4 billion in 2010, the sixth consecutive year of decline. We also project further overall declines in our forecast period to 2015. The recorded music sales decline has fed into music publisher revenues via mechanicals, and will continue to do so. In addition, the recession of 2008-09 continues to feed through to music publisher revenues via the lagged distribution of royalties. Thus, for 2010, we estimate that the global total fell by 3.1% in 2010 to $5.6 billion, and project an overall return to modest growth in 2012. Together, our analysis of recorded music and music publishing provides an industry-level context to evaluate the likely development of the majors themselves, bearing in mind that shifts in market share and currency movements will continue to differentiate their relative performances.

France’s Canal+ has won the rights to show two Ligue 1 games a week from 2012 to 2016 for €420 million per year. A surprise (and skilful) bid by Qatar’s Al Jazeera won two lower profile games for €90 million per year

We believe Al Jazeera could, at best, reach EBITDA break even by the end of the four year licence. Merging with CFoot and Orange sport would help

No bidders met the reserve price for the package of lower tier six games, but Canal+ would be well advised to bid in order to avoid the strategic risk of leaving competitors with most Ligue 1 games. Without this package, Canal+ faces limited subscriber and ARPU erosion balanced by €45 million savings on the current licence

Canal+ France has issued a prospectus in view of the April flotation of Lagardère’s 20% stake, which could still reach an agreement to sell with majority owner Vivendi

The prospectus provides a unique insight on the performance of Canal+, which has increased ARPU and profitability in the past three years, despite erosion of its subscriber base due to competitive pressures and the recession

Management’s revenue and profit targets for 2013 appear within reach, and we also see potential upsides