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ProSiebenSat.1 sets up content unit

Frouman, Kereszty to head arm

COLOGNE — Pan-European broadcaster ProSiebenSat1 has set up Group Content to control acquisition and production across all its webs, which have 200 million viewers in 13 countries.

ProSiebenSat1 said it would pump e1.6 billion ($2.2 billion) into programming this year. Figure includes spending on content for pan-European broadcaster SBS, which it acquired in July.

Group Content will be headed by Jan Frouman, who will continue as exec VP for German TV, and Gabor Kereszty, managing director of Hungary’s TV2. Kereszty will be succeeded at TV2 by SBS sales veep Zoltan Vardy.

ProSiebenSat1 on Wednesday reported first-half revenues for 2007 of $1.4 billion, up 3.6% vs. a year earlier. The growth was a surprise given that 2006 ad sales had been boosted by World Cup soccer. Net profit grew by 11.9% to $173 million.

ProSiebenSat1 forecast the German advertising market will grow 2%-3% this year.

Shares in ProSiebenSat1, which is controlled by private equity firms Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. and Permira, rose 2.6% to $31.62.

The SBS group achieved sales of $708 million in the first half.

ProSiebenSat1 chief finance officer Lothar Lanz said revenue at SBS was expected to grow 5%-9% this year.

SBS increased its revenue in all regions. Revs from Central and Eastern Europe were up 13.9% to $104 million; from the Nordic region, up 6% to $333 million; and from the Netherlands and Belgium, up 9.2% to $270 million.

Revenue growth was mainly driven by SBS’ free TV webs, which improved by 9.4% to $505 million.

SBS’ pay TV revenue decreased by 1.2% to $96.4 million.

Meanwhile, Eric van Stade was tapped as head of Dutch webs SBS 6, Veronica and NET 5. Van Stade will report to Patrick Tillieux, ProSiebenSat1’s chief operating officer.

ProSiebenSat1 highlighted its efforts to improve the technological infrastructure for its pan-European operations.

“An option here is cooperation with an external partner, and we will decide on that by the end of the year,” CEO Guillaume de Posch said.

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