Company chief Ebeling considers sale of N24

BERLIN — ProSiebenSat.1 is considering a sale of its N24 news channel as it examines ways to improve profitability at the group.

ProSiebenSat.1 topper Thomas Ebeling, in an interview with daily newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung on Friday, said the group was weighing a number of options with regards to N24, which despite a ratings lead among news webs, remains the weakest of the conglom’s German channels.

Ebeling said the company was looking at an optimization of N24 in its current form, a complete overhaul of the channel, and even a possible sale. Shutting down the channel, however, was not on the table, Ebeling stressed.

Describing news as “a loss-making business” for the group, Ebeling said competition was tough in view of the plethora of news sources available to consumers, adding: “The question is: how do you differentiate yourself in order to make your news business profitable?”

Ebeling said a final decision on N24 would not be made before February or March.

ProSiebenSat.1 is seeing a slight upturn in the fourth quarter, Ebeling said, adding that the group’s forecast for the entire year would be a little better than expected. Instead of a 16% drop in ad sales, Ebeling said he now expected revenue to be down by some 14%, adding that some optimists even reckoned with an 11% decline. Ebeling also expects the situation to further stabilize in 2010 but added that he did not expect to see growth before 2011.

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