Ruling: Czechs must write check to CME

TV group awarded $500 million plus costs

PRAGUE — In a stunning reversal of fortune, CME has won its arbitration hearing against the Czech Republic. The Central European TV group was awarded $500 million plus costs from the Stockholm Intl. Arbitration Tribunal on Friday. The decision is final with no appeal.

Just one week earlier, CME chairman and major stockholder Ronald Lauder was shocked by his loss against the republic in a similar $500 million arbitration hearing in London.

Both cases stemmed from the August 1999 power struggle over Nova TV, the leading Czech commercial channel, when Nova TV director general Vladimir Zelezny severed ties with CME, which had provided services to Nova TV through its subsidiary CNTS.

In February, CME won the first of three arbitration cases when an Amsterdam tribunal ordered Zelezny to return $27 million. He has not yet complied with that order, notching up about $1 million in interest.

During the past year, Zelezny has tried to find another foreign investor to take a stake in Nova. Several German, French and Italian media groups have looked at the station but with no results.

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