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TV Biz Booms In Berlin

This German city is attracting tv producers like a magnet. Productions and programming departments are moving into Berlin, the unofficial political capital of Germany that soon may become the country’s tv capital now that the DEFA studios are accessible.

And if you don’t want to shoot at DEFA you can build your own facility, as SAT-1 just did. One ambitious producer even is betting that Berlin is ready for a cable station all its own that would beam Berlin-oriented shows exclusively.

In mid-1990, SAT-1 quietly moved its programming division into Berlin. The private web’s main stomping grounds are in Mainz, where the execs roost, and Hamburg. Now a firm commitment is being made to producing in the sender’s brand-new studio in the middle of Berlin. Last week, SAT-1 began beaming its top-rated live morning show out of Berlin, and plans are afoot to get a weekly newsmagazine show into production soon.

Web’s Dieter Zurstrassen says Berlin is preferable to Hamburg for making quality cosmopolitan news shows. SAT-1 intends to increase its Berlin staff soon.

Pubcaster ZDF already has Berlin facilities but is strengthening its presence around town. The web just rented office space at DEFA and plans to begin producing at the Babelsberg studios by mid-year, according to DEFA’s Karl-Heinz Dorschner. ZDF topper Dieter Stolte has commissioned DEFA to undertake part of its production slate, and ZDF plans to use the studio’s general services to the tune of $3.26 million in contracts this year. ZDF also just opened a news bureau in Potsdam, part of the Berlin metropolitan area.

Indies moving

An indie producer moving over to DEFA is the Thies Group’s Neue Filmproduktion TV. Company head Herbert Ballmann has moved production of the highly rated German series “Praxis Bulowbogen” to DEFA from Berlin’s CCC Studios. Calling DEFA “technically perfect,” Ballmann will produce the next 37 episodes at DEFA and will staff his crew with many of the studio’s own technicians.

The Berlin boom also is occurring on a strictly local level. Next to local stations SFB and RIAS, indie producer Paul Stutenbaumer is launching a new local cable station to be dubbed FAB (Fernsehen aus Berlin). Station bows Feb. 1 and will reach 1 million homes, with more to come when East Berlin is set for cable.

Partners in the undertaking are Berlin indie film and video producers who contribute equipment and facilities in addition to cash.

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