In a deal reportedly worth US$60-million, Rupert Murdoch’s TV holdings company News Corp acquired a 66% majority stake in the small Munich-based women’s channel TM3, which carries accumulated losses of US$150 million. A report that was published in German news magazine Focus prior to the actual deal speculated that the channel, which currently picks up less than 1% of the total market share, may be turned into Fox Kids Germany.
So far, News Corp says both the TM3 management team and its entertainment program concept will remain intact. While Herbert Kloiber, chairman and owner of Tele-Muenchen, the company that owned the channel entirely, confirmed in an interview that some children’s programming will probably be introduced, TM3 general manager Jochen Kroehne denies the possibility that the channel may be fully turned into a kids channel. ‘We already had the idea to place children’s formats during the daytime, in the slot we now run daily soaps.’
Since Nick Germany’s June shutdown, most analysts are skeptical about the existence of a viable market for a German kids channel. Many feel that the fee-funded public channel, Kinderkanal, takes away too large a chunk of the country’s kid viewers for a commercial venture to be profitable. In addition to Kinderkanal, the market for children’s TV in Germany is split up between the CLT-UFA’s Super RTL, which airs a Disney prime-time programming slate, and RTL2. Most of Germany’s existing general commercial channels have already cut their children’s programming during the week.
In related Fox news, Saban Israel and Fox Kids Central Europe are joining forces to develop a Fox Kids Network in Israel. Arieh Saban, brother of Haim Saban and head of Saban’s Middle East operation, is hoping his joint venture will come to fruition in one year. ‘We don’t know yet which constellation the new network will be under,’ says Saban, from his Tel Aviv office. Although Saban says he has signed a contract with Tevel, one of the cable companies operating in Israel, he adds that nothing will be resolved until Israel’s cable operators sort out their dispute with the government over digitization. Saban Israel currently distributes over 6,000 titles in Israel, including product from Saban in the U.S. and the Fox Kids Network.