ZDF moves to trim costs by $ 337 mil

ZDF, already on a strict financial diet, approved a motion Thursday to cut another $ 337 million in costs by 1996.

Web chief Dieter Stolte attributed the additional cuts to the recession, which has only just begun to grip Germany, and estimated annual losses of $ 118 million in ad revenues.

The move follows cost-cutting measures adopted at the start of 1993, a hiring freeze, job trims and the second reduction in ad spot prices for the pubcaster in six months.

This time, the web is taking a long, hard look at its programming, and has announced a major revamping that will go into effect in October. Web hopes to cut $ 26.6 million in direct program costs. The decision to no longer air costly soccer in the 1993-94 season will save another $ 3 million.

Further program cost cuts are expected to save $ 10 million. ARD’s move to assume a share of the 3sat satellite channel in December will save an estimated $ 35.5 million-$ 53 million.

By the end of the decade, ZDF promises to reduce personnel to “significantly under 4,000.” The web has long been accused of being too fat with 4,230 staffers currently.

A general cut of 10% will apply to overall business and operating costs, while business travel will be reduced by a target $ 11.8 million.

ZDF has closed studios in New York and Athens and closed a film lab in Mainz. Foreign bureaus will use more local staff and strengthen cooperation with ARD.

Despite the financial cuts, ZDF’s board OK’d going on the ASTRA 1C bird Thursday. Stolte called the move necessary to maintain a competitive edge.