Court halts report on Pro7

BERLIN — A Hamburg court has ordered CLT-UFA to stop distributing an analysis of Munich-based ProSieben Media AG.

The court also threatened Thursday to slap the Bertelsmann subsidiary with a DM500,000 ($294,000) fine if it continues to circulate its analysis of ProSieben’s business prospects to the press.

ProSieben Media AG, which operates Germany’s third-ranked commercial web Pro7 and weblet Kabel1, will be listed on the Frankfurt stock exchange starting in July. ProSieben will sell 17.5 million preferred shares to the public, but exclusive voting rights remain with shareholders Thomas Kirch, son of media mogul Leo Kirch, and retailer REWE AG. The younger Kirch will control 60% of the common stock, while REWE will own the remaining 40%.

There has been recent speculation in the German press that Leo Kirch, Pro7’s main programming supplier, may raise the prices on the movies and series sold to Pro7 after the floatation, cutting the returns of the voiceless preferred shareholders.

ProSieben claims that competitor CLT-UFA, which owns shares in German webs RTL, RTL2, SuperRTL and Vox, is behind the rumors. ProSieben charges that CLT-UFA has been circulating a report asserting that Thomas Kirch will accept price hikes of 25% for film rights acquired by Pro7 from the Kirch Group, which would lead to operative losses of $59 million. An analysis challenging ProSieben’s optimistic estimates of its financial picture was also sent to Daily Variety by a CLT-UFA spokesman.

“It is shameful that one of Germany’s largest media companies is not above spreading reputation-damaging misinformation in hopes of obstructing ProSieben’s floatation,” says ProSieben chairman Georg Kofler.

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