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Germany: Teuton TV landscape revved up

Mipcom 2005: Territory report

BERLIN — Makeovers, new toppers, telenovelas, debuting channels and a renewed love of movies have suddenly enlivened what had until recently been a lackluster German TV market.

Publishing giant Axel Springer has agreed to buy ProSiebenSat 1 from Haim Saban pending a review of the $5 billion deal by federal antitrust watchdogs, which are expected to rule by year’s end.

While a Springer takeover is not expected to bring fundamental change to the broadcaster, the publisher’s conservative leanings and extensive newspaper and magazine holdings have sparked concern among leftist politicos, public broadcasters and fellow publishers who fear a massive concentration of media in Springer’s hands.

As for ProSiebenSat 1’s five channels, they are enjoying their best performances. Its leading webs have increased their market share thanks to U.S. series such as “Desperate Housewives” and “Lost” on ProSieben and local hit telenovela “Verliebt in Berlin” (“That’s Life”) on Sat 1.

Ruediger Boess, ProSiebenSat 1’s head of acquisitions, is waiting for the start of the new season in the U.S., but says the company has already “bought a few promising shows.”

Well stocked for the fall season, ProSiebenSat 1 isn’t looking for any replacement shows, says Boess. (While most U.S. films and series air on ProSieben, Sat 1 carries some Hollywood product like “Navy NCSI.”)

Boess notes that there “definitely is nothing new on the market in terms of comedies,” but adds that crime investigations skeins continue to do well.

At rival web RTL Television, Anke Schaeferkordt has replaced Gerhard Zeiler at the helm. Zeiler will devote his time to running parent RTL Group.

While RTL remains the leading commercial web, Schaeferkordt is facing sinking ad sales and is looking to beef up the primetime sked. In addition to high-profile Hollywood pics such as “X-Men 2,” “Die Another Day” and “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” the web is unveiling inhouse productions, including a telenovela, upcoming disaster two-parter “Storm Tide,” law office skein “Die Familienanwaeltin” and medical series “Die Gerichtsmedizinerin.”

Telenovelas have become the most ubiquitous format on German TV. With RTL’s new daily skein due out next year, the web will become the fourth major channel with a telenovela in primetime after pubcasters ARD, ZDF and Sat 1.

More scripted fare — in the form of classic Hollywood movies and series — have hit the airwaves thanks to NBC Universal’s new free TV web, Das Vierte, and Tele Munchen’s revamped Tele 5, which replaced its reality-heavy programming with movies and series.

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