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CME Signs Programming Deal

Central European Media Enterprises (CME), a Nasdaq-quoted operator of regional television stations in Germany and the Czech Republic, has signed a deal to launch a joint programming venture in the former Yugoslav Republic of Slovenia.

CME, the Bermuda-based subsidiary of cosmetics tycoon Ron Lauder’s Central European Development Corp. (CEDC), has agreed to pay nearly $6 million in return for shares in Slovenian broadcasters MMTV and Tele 59 and a new three-way venture to be known as Pro Plus.

The two regional Slovenian broadcasters will merge their licenses to form a new weblet, with programming produced and marketed by Pro Plus. CME will hold stakes in both regional broadcasters and Pro Plus, also co-managing operations at the new venture.

CME said last week the new station planned to bow by broadcasting 12 hours of news, movies, sports and gameshows this autumn, reaching 60% of the country’s population of two million. In two years’ time, the station hopes to broadcast 18 hours and reach 80% of the populace. Total ad revenue in Slovenia is worth about $25 million annually, with approximately $8 million of that spent on TV.

Tele 59’s owner Marjan Jurenec is expected to be tapped as program director of the new merged broadcaster. CME said it expected other local partners to join the project, but negotiations with Kanal A, which owns six broadcast licenses and operates three stations in Slovenia, have apparently broken down.

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