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Endemol plans foray into German news

AMSTERDAM — Endemol Entertainment is in late-stage negotiations with German media group Axel Springer Verlag to produce the top European indie’s first news program.

The deal calls for Endemol to work with Germany’s largest circulation daily, Bild Zeitung, owned by Axel Springer, to produce a light news/infotainment product called “Bild TV.” If all goes as planned, the new format would be ready to air in the German market beginning next January in a Monday to Friday half-hour timeslot.

Endemol head of corporate communications Thomas Notermans told Daily Variety, “No contracts have yet been signed and no broadcaster has been found for the program, but Endemol is very interested in making it.”

“Bild TV” is likely to feature light news, with much of the content coming from Bild Zeitung’s daily output. The new venture, Notermans points out, “broadens our scale of program genres, and that’s good. It is not an entertainment show and it is not another comedy.”

Endemol built its reputation on gameshows, comedies and glitzy variety extravaganzas, but announced some six months ago it wanted to move into other genres and territories. The company has been present in Germany since 1991, but further development of the market was named as one of its top priorities, not surprisingly since nearly one quarter of Endemol’s $377.9 million revenue in its 1995-96 fiscal year came from the German market.

Last week Endemol said it would take a 49% stake in German TV production company Gat Film+TV Produktion in Munich, with an option on upping that stake to 85% in the future. Gat has been doing comedy, infotainment, quiz shows and drama for ARD, ZDF, SAT1 and Pro7. Endemol’s major client up to this time has been RTL, although it has also produced for SAT1, WDR, ZDF and Austrian German-language pubcaster ORF.

Bild Zeitung, if the deal is done, will be following on the heels of Der Spiegel, Stern and Focus, all of which have developed TV programs to complement their print arms.

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