Germans threaten license over Viva move

BERLIN — Viacom could lose the broadcasting license for its recently acquired Teutonic music broadcaster Viva Media, which it is rolling into MTV Networks Central Europe, if it moves the company out of Cologne.

The North Rhine-Westphalia state government, which awards the license, issued the warning amid fears that Viacom will move ops to MTV’s Berlin base.

Miriam Meckel, state secretary for media, said the state received informal assurances from Viacom that it would keep Viva and its 540 employees in Cologne.

Channel closure

But MTV said no decision had been made about Viva’s location. Viacom is expected to shut down one of Viva’s two music channels to launch another outlet. MTV also has two webs in Germany.

MTV Networks Central Europe topper Catherine Muehlemann will travel to Dusseldorf to meet North Rhine Westphalia state officials this week to discuss the matter.

Viacom acquired a 75.8% stake in Viva from main shareholders Time Warner, Vivendi Universal and Viva founders and management this summer. It also has made an offer to remaining shareholders. If approved, Viva will be delisted from the stock market.

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