As expected, Turner Broadcasting’s CNN has acquired a 27.5% stake in N-tv, a recently launched news service for television viewers in Germany (Daily Variety, Dec. 17). Through the deal, Turner joins Time Warner, which holds about 20% of the upstart service.
Turner’s stake in N-tv will essentially mean that its product will reach Germany in two forms: through the English-language CNN Intl. and through reports that will air on N-tv.
Under the terms of the deal, N-tv will use CNN footage, although not exclusively, and is likely to supply its own reading. The service is in German language and according to those involved, is not likely to use much footage including CNN reporters.
CNN’s step into Germany just may be the precursor to the network launching other language- or country-specific channels. The network has previously targeted such places as Japan for such services.
According to Mark Rudolph, managing director of CNN Intl. Sales Ltd., the deal provides for the sharing of news-gathering efforts and costs, as well as for transponder space on Astra 1B. CNN currently holds the satellite spot, and will eventually turn it over to N-tv.
N-tv up Nov. 30
N-tv launched Nov. 30 and is available in about 9.7 million homes via satellite and cable delivery. The service will not turn into CNN, just merely use programming, say both parties.
“I’m proud to have CNN as a partner on my side from now on,” said Karl-Ulrich Kuhlo, founding partner and managing director of N-tv.
He added that from the outset the goal was not to copy CNN, because German viewers have different news requirements and a different understanding of news when compared with American viewers.
Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. Once closed, American companies will now own 47.5% of N-tv. Executives for CNN said there were no plans to acquire more of the service, although there is room for other business opportunities between the two.
N-tv could benefit by building a new German web from scratch. CNN’s London-based VP/managing editor Eason Jordon called the deal “a natural alliance: a moneymaker and a money-saver for us both.”
“We’ll be independent from Germany’s giants,” said Kuhlo. N-tv is Germany’s only private station without involvement of mega congloms Kirch, Bertelsmann or CLT.
N-tv is expected to be profitable by the beginning of 1994, according to Kuhlo.
N-tv will show the CNN logo when airing CNN footage, otherwise it will carry its own on-air identification.
Sales and marketing efforts for CNN Intl. and N-tv will remain separate, according to CNNI’s Rudolph. CNN Intl. currently reaches 120 million households in 142 countries including Germany.
Without CNN, N-tv would have had to wait until mid-1993 for an Astra berth. N-tv will now air round the clock, up from its current 18-hour day.
Cooperation between the two webs began this past week, as N-tv beamed CNN feeds out of Moscow and Mogadishu.
Beginning immediately, N-tv can access all of CNN’s footage and international infrastructure. CNN also will make use of N-tv’s programs. CNN’s Berlin staff will move into N-tv’s newly built headquarters. Berlin Bureau chief Ken Jauch has been upped to oversee day-to-day coordination between the two stations.
Rudolph also said that CNN’s potential output deal with German pubcaster ZDF will be unaffected by its new alliance, adding that the stake in N-tv did not imply absolute exclusion of cooperation with other German news sources.
Although CNN had been in talks with pubcaster ZDF, a web spokesperson said she assumed that plans for such a deal have been dropped, saying, “CNN’s interest in buying ZDF material was based on the idea of ZDF buying CNN-D shares.”
N-tv’s shares have now been reshuffled: in addition to CNN’s 27.5% stake, Time-Warner now has 19.61%; the East German Investment Trust 19.48%; CEO Karl-Ulrich Kuhlo has 8.01%, the Rothschild Group’s La Savoisienne division 6.77 %, three members of the Nixdorf family hold 4.28% each; investment group Com 2i, 4.14%; and small investors the remaining 1.66%.
CNN will now occupy two as-yet unfilled seats on N-tv’s board. Formal approval by German media authorities is pending, but no problems with the greenlight are anticipated.