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Nova TV eyes coin

Station topper Zelezny courts two investors

PRAGUE — Controversial TV Nova topper Vladimir Zelezny has signaled he is in talks with two foreign investors willing to back the popular Czech Republic station although he said he was not ready to name names.

The news will surprise Ronald Lauder, founder and chairman of Central European Media Enterprises (CME), who launched a $500 million international arbitration case against the Czech Republic before a London tribunal Monday citing lack of protection of his investment in Nova TV.

Lauder alleges the Czech government colluded with Zelezny in 1999 in hijacking TV Nova, the hugely successful private web he launched in 1994.

Last month, Amsterdam’s international arbitration court ordered Zelezny to repay CME $27 million for violating a non-competition clause — far short of the $12 million Lauder demanded in damages.

Zelezny told Daily Variety Monday: “We are happy with the outcome. Our lawyers were ecstatic. It’s not a punishment. It’s the price I must pay for buying back a share in their service company.”

He said the ruling has allowed him to plan Nova’s expansion into the digital satellite era. Nova aud share is over 50% and Zelezny said running costs are down at least 33%.

Nova should launch its Internet portal within six months. Zelezny hopes to announce Nova’s digital satellite partnership with a substantial European partner before then.

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