Shakeout Continues At Leading German TV Network

03 May 2004

Three more executives have left, or been forced out from, German satellite giant ProSiebenSat1. The trio are the latest casualties as owner and Hollywood media mogul, Haim Saban, tries to drag the debt-ridden channel out of the red.

Saban has embarked on a round of cuts and refinancing to alleviate the group's €676million ($810.2m; £455.5m) debt.

Analysts say Saban has a tough task ahead. Although Germany is still Europe's leading television market, advertising, along with the economy, is flat.

Heads have rolled at the network since it was acquired by Saban last August following the collapse of owner Leo Kirch's, media empire.

Observers believe Saban wants his own senior team in place. They point to the fact that the only remaining member of the old guard is the group's chief financial officer.

The departed trio comprise head of ProSieben, Nicholas Paalzow (he disagreed with proposed changes at the flagship channel); Juergen Doetz retired after recently being moved sideways to head Sat 1; while Marcus Hintzen, who headed the operation's merchandising unit, defected to rival channel RTL.

Paradoxically, Saban has formed a consortium with German publishing giant Axel Springer to bid for Conrad Black's Hollinger International. Springer was a one-time Kirch partner and ProSieben shareholder.

Data sourced from: Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff