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Economy ends German award fests

Axel Springer pulls plug on four major events

The global economic crisis has reached Germany’s kudofests as Teutonic media giant Axel Springer has pulled the plug on four major TV gala awards it underwrites in 2009.

These include “Goldene Kamera” (TV Guide awards), “Goldene Lenkrad” (Car of the Year) and the “Sport Bild” (sports magazine) award and “Ein herz fuer kinder” children’s charity, which aired on pubcaster ZDF.

Springer, Germany’s leading magazine and newspaper publisher that earlier this year sold its 12% stake in pan-European broadcasting group ProSiebenSat.1, said its board scratched all major events, receptions and celebrations due to falling ad revenues and the uncertain economic outlook for 2009. There was also reportedly a “growing unease” on the board about the soaring costs of the events.

“We don’t want to make cuts where it would diminish the quality of our journalism or the motivation of our staff,” wrote Springer topper Mathias Doepfner in a letter to guests for a New Year’s reception that was also canceled. “In the past we have not had to lay off any staff or cancel any newspapers or magazines. We hope to be able to avoid that in the future.”

Springer will swallow the cancellation fee for production work already done for the TV Guide Awards, which were set for February.

The “Herz fuer kinder” fundraiser for charity, which raised more than e15 million ($19.3 million) on Saturday with the help of George Clooney and has raised more than $129 million for children in need around the world since it was launched 30 years ago by the late Axel Springer himself, will continue but without a gala, a Springer rep said.

In August, Springer reported first half net income of $784 million, up from $132 million — with $637 million of that coming from the proceeds of the ProSiebenSat.1 sale. Excluding that, Springer’s net profit still rose by $15 million to $147 million on revenue of $2 billion.

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