Premiere to buy back Premiere Star


German pay-TV operator Premiere will buy back satellite platform Premiere Star. An agreement has been made with all fellow shareholders, who hold a total of 40.2%, for the gradual buyback of their shares.

Premiere wants to make the payments over the next four years from July 2009 until July 2013 with the largest amounts being paid in 2012 and 2013. Financial details were not revealed.

“The Premiere Star channels are an important building block in our programming strategy as well as a valuable part of our content offer and are therefore part of Premiere’s core business,” CEO Mark Williams said in Munich.

Premiere Star was launched as a 100% subsidiary of Premiere in September 2007. Since then nine further shareholders have come on board: HypoVereinsbank (10 per cent%), Turner Broadcasting System (8.5%), Avenue Capital Group (6.5%), EM.Sport Media (5%), Medienengagement East (3.6%), tmc Content Group (3%), Atlas Ventures (1.1%) and Wellington Partners (1.1%). The platform’s managing director Wolfram Winter holds 1.4%.

Premiere Star currently distributes 18 thematic channels for a monthly fee of €19.99 via Astra (19.2° East) for DTH households in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Liechtenstein. In contrast to Premiere, which has been focussing on exclusive channels and content, Premiere Star bundles channels which are also available in competing pay-TV packages, for example Unitymedia’s arenaSAT or Kabel Deutschland’s Kabel Digital Home.

According to industry sources, the new Premiere management wants to concentrate on a broad offer rather than a line-up of exclusive channels which, with regards to carriage feeds, is more costly for the broadcaster. It is speculated that the buyback of Premiere Star, as part of the revised strategy, could pave the way for the platform’s channels to be integrated into Premiere’s main package.

Premiere spokesman Torsten Fricke declined to comment: “Today’s announcement only means that Premiere Star’s shareholding structure will change – not more and not less.” He added that this was not a statement regarding strategic development or other changes.