Springer Invests In “Experimental” Internet TV; New Unit Is Test Bed

Axel Springer, the major European newspaper group based in Germany, is setting up a digital TV unit to produce and market content for the Internet and other digital platforms. In a conference call with reporters, Springer chief executive Mathias Doepfner said the new wholly owned subsidiary, Axel Springer Digital TV (ASDTV) is an “experimental investment” and a test bed for new ideas. He also is considering whether to develop digital TV channels.
Klaus Ebert, 53, an executive from Germany’s RTL TV broadcast company, will head the new operation. More details are expected next summer after a full management team in place. The decision to launch the new unit follows Springer’s unsuccessful effort to acquire one of Germany’s big-four television networks, ProSiebenSat.1, from U.S.-based investor Haim Saban and a PE consortium. That takeover was blocked at the start of this year by German regulators but Axel Springer still owns 12 percent.
German Press Agency: “Germany has a strict licensing system for television broadcasters, but there are no rules to restrict video via the internet.”
Variety: The “move follows a bid to acquire a 27.4 percent stake in regional channel TV Berlin.”
Earnings: AP: Axel Springer reported nine-month financials Wednesday. Profit was up 10.3 percent but revenue dropped 1.6 percent. The company said ad revenue was up 3 percent. No 3Q details. Doepfner: “We are strengthening our market leadership in Germany, expanding our international business and placing continually greater emphasis on digital and cross-media activities.”
SL Tab: This isn’t Springer’s only online announcement — or experiment — today. The publisher announced a “Second Life” tabloid; as the Guardian so deftly describes, the “cyber tabloid will cover all the news that’s virtually true.” The publisher of Bild is launching English-language SL News in December with an online office in Second Life and a real editor-in-chief who will recuit reporters from the avatar community. For 10-15 Linden dollars, Springer will provide what a spokesman called “a colourful tabloid, with snippets about showbusiness and human interest tales from the avatar world.” No stories from the real world. Reuters already has an SL bureau; no word as to whether the wire service will count SL News as a client.

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