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Battle Between VIVA And Rete A Escalates

By | April 10, 2002

      The battle between German music channel VIVA and its Italian partner Rete A has further intensified with VIVA initiating legal action against Rete A. VIVA is charging Rete A with “conduct contrary to the terms of [their] contract.” The Cologne-based VIVA said it has been “forced to instigate legal proceedings in order to protect the interests of the VIVA shareholders and the VIVA brand,” adding that it is suing Rete A for damages.

      VIVA accuses the Italian broadcaster of having “without prior consultation triggered off very serious concept alterations.” Therefore, the co-operation, which began on May 1 of last year, “has been revoked.”

      Furthermore, VIVA has forbidden Rete A to make use of additional programme material already supplied and the VIVA brand name. Dieter Gorny, chairman of VIVA Media’s executive board, said: “I deeply regret these events and remain open to any constructive suggestions. However, in view of the conduct displayed by shareholders and management of Rete A, as well as their refusal to extend adequate, market-condition guarantees regarding stock prices for a share increase, I currently see no possibility to continue a co-operation based on trust.”

      The differences between the broadcasters emerged in March. Rete A, which has been granting its terrestrial frequencies covering 70 percent of Italian TV homes to VIVA Italia since May of 2001, was apparently dissatisfied with the programmes supplied from Cologne and threatened VIVA with the withdrawal of its carriage.

      The contract signed last year would have run until June 30 of this year. The announcement of the intended court action initiated by the Cologne-based broadcaster does not come unexpectedly. VIVA spokeswoman said that her company had already threatened to sue Rete A if the partner breached the contract. In May 2001, VIVA became a 5 percent shareholder in Rete A and acquired the option to increase its participation to 60 percent. The option expired in October 2001 without being excercised by VIVA.

      –Jorn Krieger

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