N24 news net sale denied

Exec insists money-losing web will break even in 2005

BERLIN — Execs at Haim Saban’s ProSiebenSat 1 have denied rumors that it will sell 24-hour news channel N24.

Speculation that the group, which owns five channels, would sell the money-losing N24 heated up after Saban acquired it last year.

N24’s managing director Torsten Rossmann made it clear Wednesday that ProSiebenSat 1 didn’t want to sell the web or find investment partners.

He said the web would break even in 2005. N24 posted a pre-tax loss of E24 million ($29.7 million) in 2002.

Among 14- to 49-year-old viewers, Rossmann said N24 held a 0.5% market share in 2003, just 0.1% behind rival N-TV, owned by RTL and Time Warner.

In related news, Teutonic license trader EM.TV will take ProSiebenSat 1 to court unless the two parties find common ground on the price of TV content.

ProSiebenSat 1, one of EM.TV’s biggest clients, is demanding a cut in programming prices, according to EM.TV topper Werner Klatten.

The chief exec also confirmed that EM.TV was close to a deal to buy out the Junior TV children’s program catalog from the insolvent Kirch Media.

The kidvid library, which the pair launched as a joint venture in 2000, has been low on the list of priorities for Kirch Media’s insolvency administrators; otherwise, EM.TV would have taken over Junior TV months ago, Klatten added.

EM.TV is restructuring to sidestep a $580 million convertible bond due next year. The scheme calls for EM.TV creditors to forgive the outstanding payment if 97.5% of bondholders agree to assume a 60% share in the group. The deadline for bondholders to vote on the deal is today.

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