Group to pay E10 mil for majority of library

BERLIN — German licensing group EM.TV looks set to take over Junior TV, a programming catalog it jointly owns with the bankrupt Kirch Media.

EM.TV reportedly will pay Kirch Media E10 million ($12.7 million) for its 50% stake, but that won’t include some of the jewels in the Junior library, including “The Simpsons” and segs of “Sabrina the Teenage Witch.”

The rights to those series, among others, have been in question since Kirch Media’s insolvency nearly two years ago, and the agreement requires them to return to Kirch Media.

“The Simpsons” and “Sabrina” air on ProSiebenSat 1 web Pro7. Formerly part of Kirch Media, ProSiebenSat 1 was acquired by Haim Saban last year after Kirch Media’s collapse.

Deal, to be presented at EM.TV’s shareholder’s meeting Feb. 5, will resolve a number of problems that have existed between the two companies since the Kirch bankruptcy and paves the way for further restructuring at EM.TV.

EM.TV execs could not be reached for comment.

Junior TV was launched in 2000 by Kirch Media and EM.TV; the catalog included 20,000 hours of children and teen-oriented programming from Kirch Media’s vast programming library, for which EM.TV paid $250 million. In addition to European toons “Heidi” and “Pippi Longstocking,” Junior included classic U.S. fare like Hanna-Barbera’s “The Flintstones” and “Scooby-Doo” as well as Warners’ “Looney Tunes,” “Batman: The Animated Series” and “Superman: The Animated Series.”

Much of the Warners product has reverted back to the studio, however. Last year Warners inked a new deal with Pro7 rival RTL2 for a long-term package of new and old Warner programming, including many of the former Junior titles.

“The Simpsons” played a key role in the near bankruptcy of EM.TV in 2000 when a deal to sell the show to ProSiebenSat 1 fell through. EM.TV published revenue figures from the non-existent sale in a report, only to later slash its earnings estimate by 90%, revealing losses of $1.2 billion.

Former EM.TV topper Thomas Haffa was fined $1.3 million by a Munich court last April for misleading investors about the company’s financial state.

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