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Berlin fest loses Saban

SAT I bows out of film festival

BERLIN — Haim Saban-owned channel SAT 1 has pulled its sponsorship from the Berlin Film Festival, ending a seven-year partnership.

Move could further jar the web’s standing in Germany’s entertainment industry, which is growing increasingly critical of the broadcaster.

Fest topper Dieter Kosslick said Thursday that SAT 1’s withdrawal was no surprise and played down the effect it would have on Germany’s top film event, which runs Feb. 10-20.

“SAT 1’s decision did not surprise us. We are confident that the successful public-private partnership we have had for years will continue and we will soon introduce the sponsors of the upcoming festival,” he said.

Berlinale sources said the fest’s financial backing would remain unchanged. The event is backed by E6.5 million ($8.4 million) from the German government and $4.5 million from sponsoring partners, including L’Oreal Paris and Volkswagen, and event revenues.

SAT 1, part of Saban’s ProSiebenSat 1 group, said it was placing greater concentration on original inhouse productions and projects. Yet the web has come under fire recently for its laserlike focus on the bottom line, fueling speculation that the company is being prepped for a possible sale.

Ottfried Fischer, one of SAT 1’s biggest names and star of the hit detective series “Der Bulle von Toelz,” has in recent days repeatedly blasted the channel’s Americanization, saying ratings have become the web’s only priority.

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