Czech station to also scale back on inhouse prod'n

PRAGUE — Money-losing Czech commercial station TV3 has notified 60% of its staff that their jobs will be eliminated by Jan. 1.

Decision came days after the Broadcasting Council rejected a request to transfer TV3′s license to EMV (European Media Ventures), a Luxembourg-based company. EMV is partially owned by Argus Capital, a daughter company of U.S. insurance group Prudential, and by Peter Gerwe, an American with media investments in Eastern Europe.

License holder Martin Kindernay subsequently transferred the license to RTV Galaxie, a company he wholly owns.

TV3 investors, who have put some $15 million in the station, say Kindernay breached his agreement with them by not first consulting with them and transferring the license to a Czech company controlled by EMV.

A spokesman said EMV is asking that Kindernay pay a fine for his actions. Management denied reports that the station will cease broadcasts on Nov. 5, saying it merely intends to scale back on inhouse production, producing only newscasts as required by its license agreement.

TV3 has lagged behind the competition, drawing only 1% of viewers, despite a publicized relaunch last year. To date, the Broadcasting Council has rejected all 47 applications for new frequencies by TV3, block-ing its expansion beyond parts of Prague and the eastern town of Hradec Kralove, where the station began operations five years ago.

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