More suspects in Premiere scam

The scandal surrounding Premiere’s bloated subscriber figures is likely lead to further far reaching consequences at the German pay-TV broadcaster. The Munich-based company’s shareholders doubt that the chairman of Premiere’s supervisory board, Rainer Grosskopf, has sufficiently fulfilled his controlling duties, reports German financial newspaper Handelsblatt.

There could also be further heads rolling at Premiere’s top executive board following the resignation of CFO Alexander Teschner. “Basically, everyone, who has been onboard for a longer time, is under suspicion”, the paper quotes industry sources. This includes former CEO Georg Kofler, although he quickly denied allegations that false numbers were published under his leadership after the subscriber recount was made public on October 2. “Each euro shown in our books has in fact been earned”, Kofler told news magazine Focus.

The situation could get even worse. Apparently the first shareholders who acquired Premiere stakes on the stock exchange are considering taking legal action against the broadcaster, arguing they were cheated.

There could also be financial consequences. For example, third party broadcasters carried on Premiere’s platform which pay a fee per subscriber could lodge complaints for compensation, claiming they were charged for non-existent viewers. The same applies to advertising customers that could argue their commercials didn’t reach as many households as claimed by the platform operator.

After the resignation of CEO Michael Börnicke his successor Mark Williams, who jumped in from Premiere’s largest single shareholder News Corp, took a closer look at the broadcaster’s books with the appalling result that there are considerably less subscribers than officially reported in the past. 940,000 subscribers, which only existed on paper, were excluded from the figures.