Film acquisitions help solidify position

BERLIN — German media outfit Tele Munchen Group bested 1999’s record sales figures by 2% in 2000 with revenues of DM424 million ($194 million). Company also had a pre-tax windfall of $158 million from the sale of its 34% stake in weblet TM3 to News Corp.

TMG solidified its position as the second-biggest license trader in the German-lingo market (after the Kirch Group) by investing more than $140 million in film acquisitions, including “Autumn in New York,” “Wonderboys” and “Rollerball” as well as popular toon series “Digimon” and more runs of TV’s “Stargate SG-1.”

TMG, the only company to rival Kirch and RTL, was instrumental in launching webs including Tele 5 (which later became Kirch sport channel DSF), RTL 2 and TM3. Company is set to put a new digital broadcaster — TM.TV — on the air later this year in Germany.

Startup costs are estimated at $140 million with operating losses of some $35 million in 2002, according to the company.

In Austria, TMG is expecting new government legislation to pave the way for its cable channel ATV to be granted a terrestrial license.

In preparation for that, the web has increased its shareholders to include the Scandinavian Broadcasting Group (SBS) in addition to U.S.-Dutch cabler UPC, Austrian bank BAWAG and TMG, each with 25% stakes.

In addition, company holds a stake in Hungary’s TV2. TMG is also considering launching regional webs in Munich, Berlin and Hamburg.

Munich kidvidder EM.TV holds a 45% stake in TMG but may be forced to sell it in order to get regulatory approval for its new partnership with Kirch.

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