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RTL confirms plans for succession

Schaeferkordt to follow Zeiler as tube topper

COLOGNE — While the future ownership structure of Germany’s largest TV family, ProSiebenSat 1, remains unsettled, RTL has become explicit about the management of the country’s main commercial channel, RTL TV.

“It’s no secret that Anke Schaeferkordt will be my successor,” said Gerhard Zeiler, head of both RTL Group in Luxembourg and of RTL TV in nearby Cologne. Schaeferkordt, previously topper of RTL sister web Vox, joined RTL TV in February as Zeiler’s deputy.

Zeiler’s confirmation of ongoing speculation that he would step back from RTL TV came at the Medienforum NRW confab, in reply to the cheeky question whether he would leave North Rhine Westphalia now that the state has elected a new prime minister. NRW’s new political head for barely two weeks, Juergen Ruettgers, had emphasized at the confab the importance of public broadcasters, which he said deserved political support.

Cologne in NRW is home to not only RTL TV but also WDR, the largest broadcaster in the nationwide public network ARD. Ruettgers’ party, the Christian Democrats (CDU), has recently favored putting a brake on pubcaster funding.

Meanwhile, the Teutonic TV managers who gathered at the confab’s opening panel were relatively relaxed about the prospect that Haim Saban’s ProSiebenSat 1 Group soon could be majority-owned by Axel Springer, the country’s largest print publisher.

While panel host Sandra Maischberger suggested Springer CEO Matthias Doepfner “could become a friendlier version of Silvio Berlusconi,” neither Zeiler nor representatives of pubcasters showed major concern.

“We don’t see any illegitimate power concentration as long as it’s happening on the existing legal grounds,” said WDR topper Fritz Pleitgen.

ProSiebenSat 1’s Hubertus Meyer-Burkhardt said he was not able to comment on future ownership scenarios of his group.

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