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Update Premieres restructuring in top gear - 14-November-2008, 12:50

Premieres restructuring in top gear

Mark Williams (pictured, left), the new CEO of German pay-TV operator Premiere, considers the restructuring of the company to be right on course, adding there would be no sale of Premiere Star.

We are making good progress with our strategic review and have begun implementing some key changes, Williams said in Munich. We are now focusing our subscriber acquisition activity exclusively on monthly contract subscribers and have terminated most other offers. Premiere recently announced its intention to discontinue prepaid options and only offer regular subscriptions with contracts.

A prerequisite to renewed growth was closing the security gap in early November, said Williams. Premiere has suffered falling subscription figures over previous months after hackers successfully bypassed Premieres old encryption system. By changing the encryption system and swapping all smartcards, only legitimate subscribers have been able to receive the package since November 10.

The broadcaster is hoping to win new customers over the Christmas period by offering attractive blockbuster movies such as the German TV premieres of cinema successes like Shrek the Third (2007), Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007) and German production Keinohrhasen (2007). Football fans can see the Champions League and domestic DFB cup championship in addition to Bundesliga matches, while on public holidays top international games such as Arsenal vs. Liverpool, Real Madrid vs. Valencia or Glasgow Rangers vs. Celtic Glasgow will be screened.

Williams also denied recent reports that a sale of pay-TV satellite platform Premiere Star was on the cards. There is no plan to sell Premiere Star, he said. The free-to-air channel GIGA, which Premiere acquired in January, will not be sold either. Williams stressed that he wants to conclude his examinations into all Premieres business areas by the end of the year. With a new business plan, which he wants to implement by year-end, the Australian wants to lead the troubled subscription broadcaster back to success.

German industry publication Handelsblatt recently reported that Premiere was considering the sale of Premiere Star. The package comprises 18 thematic channels which are distributed via Astra (19.2 East) to DTH satellite homes in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Liechtenstein as well as on cable networks for a monthly fee of 19.99.

Premiere currently holds an almost 60 per cent majority in the platform. Minority stakes are held by UniCredit subsidiary HypoVereinsbank, Turner Broadcasting System, EM.Sport Media and financial investors.
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