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B-TV eyes Kirch stations

TV Berlin, TV Munchen, Hamburg 1 may be shed to minimize debt

COLOGNE — Kirch Group’s regional stations could find a new home in B-TV, which is creating a Fox-style network in Germany.

Kirch indicated that its metropolitan stations TV Berlin, TV Munchen and Hamburg 1 are among assets that may be shed to minimize the company’s $5.7 billion debts. The three stations have never made money.

Stuttgart-based B-TV is the only other private German company to operate more than one local station.

Last April, it started producing its own entertainment programming to feed its stations, which means it no longer has to rely on Kirch’s program block Sun TV, which most local stations pick up.

B-TV has applied for licenses in all German states, and will launch new stations on the northern coast this year.

Bernd Schumacher, head of B-TV, confirmed that he has approached the Kirch Group and that the two sides will talk soon.

“There is no financial offer yet, as we are unclear about Kirch’s plans,” he said.

In Schumacher’s opinion, Kirch’s three stations were hampered by their heavy emphasis on local news, which B-TV would partly replace with its umbrella entertainment sked.

“The more station members we have, the sooner we will be profitable,” he said.

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