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Bavaria axes exec over ads

Kleine sent packing in wake of scandal

Bavaria Film sacked former topper Thilo Kleine on Thursday in connection with a product placement scandal that continues to engulf the production giant and its parent, pubcaster ARD.

Kleine’s ouster is the most significant fallout from the scandal that broke last month after press reports uncovered illicit ads going back years in series produced by Bavaria for ARD, including daily soap “Marienhof.”

Bavaria’s shareholders include ARD regional affiliates WDR, SWR, MDR, BR as well as the state of Bavaria.

Company last week dismissed two producers and a writer linked to the practice, which is illegal in Europe.

On Wednesday Studio Hamburg, another ARD subsid, fired Frank Doehmann, head of Studio Hamburg Produktion, for placing a hidden ad for a lottery company In an episode of “Tatort.”

Thomas Langheinrich, prexy of the Baden-Wurttemberg state media watchdog LFK, has called for greater power to oversee pubcasters, which regulate themselves. The media regulators were set up to keep an eye on commercial broadcasters.

Meanwhile, the European Union could legalize U.S.-style product placement when it overhauls the Television Without Frontiers directive governing broadcasters.

With the growth of product placement in U.S. shows and films, many of which are seen in Europe, coupled with the erosion of the traditional TV advertising market, both the EU and the U.K.’s media watchdog Ofcom acknowledge that existing legislation may no longer be relevant.

The change will be considered at a conference in Liverpool Sept. 20-22.

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