Neun Live To Set Up Sister Services

By | August 28, 2002 | Feature

Neun Live, the successful German viewer participation channel that replaced the ill-fated women’s channel TM3 in September 2001, has revealed plans to expand into other European countries. According to Neun Live Managing Director Christiane zu Salm, the Munich-based channel’s shareholders – teleshopping broadcaster H.O.T Networks and TV group Pro Sieben SAT.1 Media – are looking to set up sister channels with a similar concept in Austria and the United Kingdom. “We want to create a real market for viewer interaction channels,” she said.

Neun Live raises revenue from calls made by viewers on premium-rate phone numbers when they wish to take part in programmes. For the most part these programmes are quiz shows in which prizes can be won. Another chunk of income is generated through the sale of travel arrangements during Neun Live’s daily travel show “Sonnenklar.”

The success of the travel shopping window resulted in the creation of the spin-off travel channel Sonnenklar TV which launched in digital on an SES Astra satellite (19.2 degrees East) in May. Zu Salm is justifiably proud of Neun Live’s recent financial success. “Besides myself and three others, no one else believed that this would happen.” Revenue climbed by 61 per cent to 14 million euros ($13.6 million) in the second quarter of this year, and the number of calls doubled to 43 million.

The results meant that Neun Live reached financial breakeven for the first time. Zu Salm expects to reach an operating profit of at least 4 million euros ($3.9 million) and revenue of at least 27 million euros ($26.2 million) in the second half of this year.

In another recent notable development in the German television market, RTL Group has finally succeeded in adding a news channel to its broad portfolio.

The Luxembourg-based media group will acquire the 47.33 percent stake of German publishing house Holtzbrinck in news channel n-tv and Holtzbrinck’s shares in 12 German radio broadcasters for the total amount of 170 million euros ($167 million). The transaction is subject to the approval of the German media and cartel authorities. RTL said this acquisition strengthens its competence in news broadcasting and extends its position as Germany’s leading television channel family.

The Berlin-based n-tv 24-hour news channel had revenue of 72 million euros ($71 million) last year. With the acquisition of Holtzbrinck’s shares in radio broadcasters, RTL Group has a market presence in all German regional states except Schleswig-Holstein and Hessen.

With a 49.8 per cent stake, U.S. media group CNN/Time Warner remains n-tv’s largest shareholder. “We look forward to a successful collaboration with CNN/Time Warner to strengthen n-tv’s position as Germany’s leading news channel,” said Gerhard Zeiler, managing director of RTL Television Germany. Fears that n-tv would lose its editorial independence by allying itself with the RTL conglomerate have been played down by the channel’s programme director, Helmut Brandstatter: “We have a new shareholder now – but that’s it. We will report about Bertelsmann [RTL’s main shareholder] the same as we report about other business companies,” said Brandstatter.

Meanwhile, GoldStar TV and Heimatkanal, two thematic pay-TV channels on Kirch Group’s digital platform Premiere, have retreated from the troubled German media empire. According to Gottfried Zmeck, GoldStar managing director and former head of Premiere’s predecessor DF1, his TV company has taken over the 50 per cent share of MultiChannel, a subsidiary of insolvent Kirch Pay-TV, which effectively gives GoldStar 100 per cent ownership of both channels.

The media authorities have already approved the transaction. Both GoldStar TV and Heimatkanal, which mainly target older viewers with a mixture of German music and movies from the 1950s and 1960s, are offered as the “GoldStar Extra” package to Premiere’s subscribers. Zmeck also produces the radio channel “Radio GoldStar,” which is available free-to-air on an Astra satellite (19.2 degrees East) and on cable networks throughout Germany. –Jorn Krieger

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