Fuchs bows out before ATV debut

Bank to assume 75% ownership

VIENNA — ATV, Austria’s first private terrestrial channel, will bow June 1 without the man who has transformed it from an adults-only city cabler to a nationwide family-skewed web.

Managing director Tillmann Fuchs says his departure is connected to a change in ATV’s management and has been mutually agreed.

Austrian bank Bawag will assume 75% ownership of ATV through the dilution of shares. The station had been owned equally by pan-Europe broadcasters SBS, UPC, Germany’s Tele Munchen and Bawag. SBS said last year it was unwilling to put more money into ATV.

CEO Franz Prenner will preside over the debut of ATV, which has a 12-39 target audience. His background includes stints at ORF’s marketing division and at the Cannes advertising market.

Fuchs is on leave until his contract expires at the end of July.

He spent two years fighting for the country’s first terrestrial commercial license and negotiating with pubcaster ORF for the use of its transformers to reach viewers throughout the mountainous country.

A station spokesperson said there was no official statement regarding the change at the top.

ATV will have a two-part launch — it kicks off June 1 as a 24-hour station, the second phase happens in September, when viewers traditionally return from summer break, when ATV will debut its own programming.

ATV will reach 6.6 million viewers. Targets include an audience share of 5% by the end of the year, rising by 5% during each of the next two years. ATV should also be available on cable by the end of this year.

Programming will see an emphasis on Austrian shows. Unable to compete with powerhouse ORF, film acquisitions will lean toward higher profile Euro movies such as “Amelie” and “Chocolat.”

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