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Premiere Leaves Insolvency Risks Behind

By | August 28, 2002

      Premiere, the ill-fated pay-TV broadcaster majority owned by troubled German media company Kirch Group, now considers itself saved from the risk of having to file for insolvency after a milestone agreement was reached with Hollywood studio Universal.

      “Insolvency is not an issue any more for me,” managing director Georg Kofler said in Munich. The contract recently signed with Universal grants Premiere the long-term right to broadcast the studio’s cinema movies and TV productions. “The closing of the deal with Universal marks the breakthrough in our renegotiations with the Hollywood studios,” stressed Kofler. He added that Universal is the third Hollywood studio after Fox and Dreamworks to sign a revised deal.

      The former contracts, which apparently contained unfavourable conditions for Premiere, were seen as one of the main causes of its severe financial problems. As soon as Kofler took over his post at the beginning of this year, he started to renegotiate the contracts. It is thought that Premiere had to pay so much for the airing of the movies that financial breakeven seemed unobtainable. According to Kofler, similar negotiations are underway with other Hollywood studios. “We will most probably reach new output deals with one or two other Hollywood majors before Christmas,” Kofler said.

      The agreement with Universal, financial details of which were not disclosed, also secures the continuation of the U.S.-based company’s own channels Studio Universal and 13th Street on the Premiere platform. Meanwhile, the search for new shareholders for the pay-TV broadcaster continues. According to sources, Morgan Stanley, which is organising the search for investors, has recently sent invitations to around 20 interested parties, with responses due by the end of August. –Jorn Krieger

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