N24 bought by group led by Rossmann, Aust

BERLIN — Pan-European broadcasting group ProSiebenSat.1 has sold its German news channel N24 to a consortium formed by managing director Torsten Rossmann and journalist and former Spiegel editor-in-chief Stefan Aust.

The deal, inked Wednesday, transfers ownership of the N24 web as well as the Maz&More production company to the newly formed N24 Media GmbH holding, creating Germany’s largest independent TV information producer.

Rossmann, Aust (author of the bestselling book “The Baader Meinhof Complex”) and partner Thorsten Pollfuss will hold all the shares in the new group, which will be headquartered in Berlin.

In addition to the purchase, N24 Media also signed a contract to deliver all news programming for the broadcaster’s German stations, Sat.1, ProSieben and Kabel Eins through 2016 as well as the Sat.1 Fruehstuecksfernsehen morning show and the Sat.1 Magazin format through 2014.

“Long-term contracts with ProSiebenSat.1 will give them the stability they need to get N24 Media established as a new independent information service provider in Berlin,” said ProSiebenSat.1 CEO Thomas Ebeling.

“At the same time, the contract ensures that our stations will have a long-term supply of high-quality news programming. This arrangement has given us a journalistically and economically sound base for our news and the solution is a very good outcome for our stations, our viewers, and the employees of N24.”

The sale will not decrease the amount of news programming on ProSiebenSat.1 remaining webs. State media watchdogs had taken issue with the planned sale of the web, lamenting the possible loss of N24 as a news web and stressing that Germany’s commercial broadcasters have an obligation to carry news programming.

“In terms of content, I see the founding of N24 Media as an important contribution toward strengthening the diversity of providers in the news industry,” Ebeling added.

The chief exec had indicated as early as last year that the group was considering the sale of the money-losing N24. While the companies declined to provide financial details of the deal, Ebeling did say the sale of the channel would result in some E25 million ($30.75 million) in annual savings for ProSiebenSat.1.

As part of the management buyout, N24 editor-in-chief Peter Limbourg will move to ProSiebenSat.1 as senior VP news and political information while continuing to anchor the Sat.1 evening news.

Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more