Newsmaker: Fred Klinkhammer

President of regional broadcaster CME

PRAGUE — When Fred Klinkhammer joined CME in 1997, it was the regional broadcasting powerhouse. Two presidents later, when he was moved up to the top slot, CME had pulled out of the lucrative German, Polish and Hungarian markets, had loss-makers in four markets and was about to embark on a protracted legal battle with the renegade director of its Czech station. “I didn’t come expecting to step into this kind of responsibility,” says the free-spoken Canadian. “I’ve spent all my time trying to fix things that were broken.”

After “skimming the fat” and working with station directors in Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and the Ukraine to make them all profitable, he says, “Now we’ve got this handsome little business.”

But reviving companies is nothing new for Klinkhammer, who’s a master of the icy steel gaze when crossed. His turnaround of pay TV outfit First Choice was “most personally rewarding” and surprised colleagues who said it couldn’t be done.

Lately, Klinkhammer’s been guiding CME through a two-year-plus legal tangle with Nova TV director Vladimir Zelezny that has led to precedent-setting court cases.

Rejecting the notion he’s a miracle worker, Klinkhammer says, “It’s plain hard work. We’ve been extremely careful to stick to our principles and tried to be like Caesar’s wife.”

Dealing with the region’s “relatively immature legal systems where tunneling (stripping companies of assets and profits) is legally possible” and people still fear the police has turned the job into a seven-day-a-week grind. But Klinkhammer plans to stick around.

“I owe it to myself to enjoy the profit times,” he says, looking forward to a return to expansion and development. And more time for sailing in Lake Huron, off the island he and his wife bought, and his regular poker game with Canadian industry colleagues.

Considering the skills honed during his Czech showdown, his poker mates might want to play close to the vest.

Filed Under:

Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 0

Leave a Reply

No Comments

Comments are moderated. They may be edited for clarity and reprinting in whole or in part in Variety publications.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

More Scene News from Variety

Loading