CME’s Czech subsid fused

Web has powered co.'s growth across six countries

Ron Lauder-owned Central European Media Enterprises has consolidated its control of Czech broadcasting, with its subsidiary, Vilja, registered in a Prague court as the owner of CET 21, the license holder for TV Nova.

The terrestrial commercial web, launched by CME in 1994, has powered CME’s growth across six countries in the region.

But CME’s practice of using local license holders backfired in 1999, when Vladimir Zelezny, TV Nova topper and 60% owner of CET 21, seized control of the station.

CME sued the Czech Republic for failing to protect its property rights and won a $353 million judgment in 2003. It bought back TV Nova in 2005, restoring it to front and center of the CME empire.

Filing finally settles the long dispute over CET 21, providing legal clarity as to the license holder’s rightful owner, said TV Nova topper Petr Dvorak.

Perhaps inspired by Zelezny, CME’s Ukrainian partner, Igor Kolomoisky, has been fighting for control of the web’s station there, Studio 1+1. Dispute is working its way through the courts.

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