BERLIN — In what could be the first of many changes in the top echelon of bankrupt Teutonic TV titan Kirch Media, programming chief Fred Kogel is ankling after spending the last eight months navigating the company through its insolvency.
The news follows a long-term licensing agreement Kogel hammered out with Disney in November. The Mouse House is the first Hollywood major to strike a deal with Kirch after its insolvency proceedings in April.
German publishers Heinrich Bauer and Axel Springer are set to take over Kirch Media, once the core TV and licensing unit of the collapsed Kirch Group empire.
While some insiders had expected Kogel to seek a top position in a newly formed post-Kirch company, his exit may be a sign of further house cleaning on the executive floors of Kirch Media and its TV broadcasting group ProSiebenSat 1.
Kogel said negotiations with licensing partners would be finalized by late December, when he is due to leave. Company is in talks with other major U.S. studios, while Sony is mulling joining Bauer and Springer in their takeover of the group.
Kogel has offered to remain available as an adviser. Before replacing Jan Mojto as Kirch Media’s programming chief last year, Kogel ran Kirch web SAT 1 until 2000 and was head of programming at pubcaster ZDF until 1995.
Kogel remains a 26% shareholder in Kirch Media format producer Kirch Media Entertainment, although the shingle’s future remains up in the air due to extensive corporate restructuring at Kirch Media and ProSiebenSat 1 that is likely to follow new ownership.