SVT’s Curman cut off

Stake in rival media co. cause CEO's downfall

COPENHAGEN — The boss of Swedish pubcaster SVT, Maria Curman, was ousted Monday after less than 18 months in the job, following last week’s disclosure that she owned shares in Modern Times Group, a Swedish media concern controlling rival stations TV3 and TV8, and part-owner of commercial channel TV4.

Curman is the third SVT topper to exit under a cloud in the last two years. Lars Weiss never took up the CEO post because of alleged financial irregularities and program director Mikael Olsson left the company after credit card and tax problems.

However, SVT chairman Allan Larsson and the board are thought to have used Curman’s ownership of 600 MTG shares — worth $17,395 — to dispose of her as she had not improved ratings or dealt with the pubcaster’s management and identity crises.

Acting program director Thomas Nilsson survived the ax despite having 14,000 options in TV4, which he sold when the press began to investigate.

Curman said she asked her financial advisor to dump her shares once she realised they were a problem. She claimed she had no recollection that Modern Times was part of her portfolio. Besides her own shares, her close family has a $195,000 stake in the SVT competitor.

SVT head of development Kjell Kullberg will take over as interim director general until the board can appoint Curman’s successor and a new program director.

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