MTG aim: TV4 analog license

Arguments continue over concession fee

AMSTERDAM — Modern Times Group has made a play for the analog license of Sweden’s TV4 Sweden, the largest commercial channel in the Nordic territories.

The license goes hand in hand with a hefty 400 million Swedish kroner ($471 million) concession fee paid by TV4 to the Swedish government, levied in the early 1990s to make up for the advantage TV4 had over satellite networks (including MTG) whose reach was much smaller.

“The competitive advantage for the license holder is considerable for the foreseeable future,” said MTG chief exec Hans-Holger Albrecht.

MTG said the concession fee, which is partly generated by profits from the channel, could swell to $1.2 billion under MTG ownership.

TV4 has argued the fee should be lowered or dropped because, among other factors, penetration for satellite nets is now much higher.

A recent government report has recommended that the concession fee be lowered in 20% increments beginning next year until 2008, which MTG would clearly not support.

“The move by MTG could force the government to take a closer look at the arguments presented in the study in favor of lowering the concession fee,” said one industry analyst.