Jörn Krieger ©RapidTVNews | 11-08-2011

The former head of Germany’s leading commercial broadcaster RTL, Helmut Thoma, plans to re-enter the TV industry.

In collaboration with Helmut Keiser, former managing director of NBC Europe and TV production company DFA, the 72-year-old wants to establish a national framework content network for commercial regional TV channels throughout Germany.

The Düsseldorf-based venture, dubbed Volks-TV (Peoples’ TV) wants to launch its service by the end of this year, reports German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung (http://www.sueddeutsche.de/wirtschaf...ehen-1.1129746).

“My goal is to become a noticeable third force in the German commercial television market,” Thoma told the paper. The media authority KEK gave the green light for Volks-TV on 10 August 2011.

According to Thoma, investments of around €30 million are required for the first two years and the search for investors, including those in the US, are currently underway. Potential investors include both individuals and private equity companies. The service is due to be financed through commercials and sponsoring. “We are in talks with investors and have already reached the first agreements,” said Thoma.

The plan is for Volks-TV to provide regional channels such as TV.Berlin, Hamburg 1 and NRW.TV with joint national programme strands. Negotiations with the broadcasters are well advanced, said Thoma. “We will launch with a technical reach of 11 million households which could eventually rise to up to 16 million,” he said.

The national programme blocks are meant to make regional channels attractive to national advertisers, thereby opening up new sources of income. Volks-TV’s shows will be closely tied to Internet offerings and social networking sites such as Facebook to target a young audience group.

Thoma, who was RTL’s managing director between 1984 and 1998, and Keiser each hold 50% of the stakes in Volks-TV. Through his Infobonn Holding company, Keiser is indirectly a shareholder in regional channels NRW.TV and bw family.tv.