The latest sign of serious trouble for the Kirch/Springer/Berlusconi sports channel DSF emerged with the surprise resignation of the station’s managing director, Donald McLoughlin.

Newspaperman Dieter Hahn, whose resume includes many years with the Springer Publishing Group, will take McLoughlin’s place in April.

Policy differences

Neither McLoughlin, Hahn nor members of DSF’s shareholder the Kirch Group were available for comment. The official grounds for McLoughlin’s resignation are “differences regarding business policy.”

How long DSF can hold up — especially since the major German sports rights, including soccer and tennis, will be held by other stations for several more years — is a matter of speculation.

A ratings decline

Since DSF’s inception as a sports niche channel in January, the ratings have declined steadily, giving credibility to the predictions of the competition that the station would not last. The peak-rated show last week attracted only 790,000 viewers, with an average rating of 300,000 viewers. Before Kirch/Springer/Berlusconi bought DSF’s predecessor Tele 5 last year, its shows peaked regularly at 1.5 million viewers.

Politics also have caused DSF headaches since launch: The channel’s terrestrial frequencies were retracted in Berlin to fight the growing concentration of Kirch Group TV holdings. Media watchdogs in other German states got into the fray and since then many parts of the Kirch empire have come under attack.

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