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GERMANY

ARD hints bow of all-news channel

Following ProSieben’s recent announcement of a new 24-hour commercial news channel for the German market, national public broadcaster ARD has hinted at the possibility of its own all-news channel.

Bernhard Wabnitz, head of ARD Aktuell news, said last week he could imagine the pubcaster producing its own news channel. ProSieben’s planned N-24 channel will be competition for commercial news channel N-TV, but it will be no threat to the pubcasters, he added.

ARD is already beefing up its news programming by expanding its network of correspondents and increasing its weekend and special events coverage.

AUSTRALIA

Switkowski tops Telstra

Ziggy Switkowski has been appointed chief executive of Australian telecommunications giant Telstra, which owns half of Rupert Murdoch’s leading Oz cabler Foxtel.

Switkowski was one of the many chief execs that have served at troubled rival telco and feevee player Optus in the past few years. At Telstra, he takes over from Frank Blount, who is returning to his native U.S.

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In the second major re-jig of Becker Entertainment’s film operations in as many years, Jane Alsobrook has been tapped as acquisitions and marketing consultant for both the Dendy Films arthouse label and the mainstream REP Film Distribution.

Alsobrook, who until last year was president of REP, will oversee acquisition reps in London and Los Angeles under the eye of REP topper Mark Gooder. Since stepping aside as REP prexy, Alsobrook headed Dendy’s exhib and distrib biz. That role will be filled by Troy Lum, who was acting as REP’s distribution manager.

JAPAN

‘Fantasy’ sets record

Video game “Final Fantasy VIII” set a single day sales record in Japan when 2.21 million copies were sold when it hit the market last week, the game’s maker Square Co. said.

The highly popular action adventure game is for the Sony PlayStation video console, and first day sales were estimated to be 17.2 billion yen ($151 million), Square said.

The Final Fantasy series has been on the Japanese market for years and fostered legions of devoted fans, a few specialty magazines and hundreds of Internet sites devoted to Final Fantasy.

Thousand of fans lined up early at electronics shops in Tokyo to be among the first people to get copies of the latest Final Fantasy game.