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Saban German-lingo net heads to U.S.

Dish Network to transmit 'best of' selection

BERLIN — Haim Saban’s ProSiebenSat 1 has become the first major Teutonic broadcasting group to launch a German-lingo channel in the U.S.

Subscription channel ProSiebenSat 1 Welt is transmitted via EchoStar’s Dish Network and offers a “best of” selection of programming from its main channels, ProSieben, Sat 1, Kabel 1 and news web N24. Latter provides specially tailored news reports for U.S. auds.

Among the program highlights are two live national soccer Bundesliga games per week with German commentary as well as popular series like Sat 1 cop show “Der Bulle von Toelz” and feature films including comedy hit “Manitou’s Shoe.”

In addition to the new ProSiebenSat 1 service, German international pubcaster Deutsche Welle also broadcasts in the U.S. and internationally.

ProSiebenSat 1 released financials Tuesday that saw bottom-line earnings triple last year to E133.6 million ($174 million) and pretax profit grow by $207 million to a record $288 million.

“We’ve generated the best pretax profit in our history,” said CEO Guillaume de Posch. “That’s something to be very pleased about, especially given the slowdown of the advertising market in the second half of last year. We’ve more than achieved the goals we set ourselves for 2004 a year ago.”

Company attributed the positive results to higher advertising revenues and rigorous cost cutting. Revenue was up 1.5% to $2.4 billion following a three-year decline, signaling a slight recovery in the advertising industry.

ProSiebenSat 1 also announced its intention to take over the lucrative interactive TV group Euvia Media, which operates call-in quiz channel Neun Live and travel web Sonnenklar. Euvia is 48.4% owned by ProSiebenSat 1 and 48.6% by Barry Diller’s Home Shopping Network; Neun Live topper Christiane zu Salm owns 3%.

Acquisition, valued at north of $130 million, is part of the group’s efforts to cut its dependency on advertising.

Company is planning on launching pay TV channels on German cabler Kabel Deutschland this year, a move that could hurt paybox Premiere, Germany’s only digital pay TV platform. Premiere is gearing up for an initial public offering next month.

ProSiebenSat 1 cut programming investments by $246 million to $1.2 billion in 2004. Company said current film deals ensured a regular programming supply for its channels for the next few years.

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