Time Warner (NYSE: TWX) is putting its faith in European TV by spending $241.5 million (165.9 million) on a 31 percent stake in Central European Media Enterprises, a TV network reaching 97 million people in seven countries across central and eastern Europe. TWX gets 19 million newly issued CME sharesit is jointly listed on Nasdaq and the Prague stock exchangebut is giving CME founder and non-executive chairman Ronald Lauder (pictured) voting control over them for at least four years, except in certain cases. The deal will be rubber-stamped before the end of Q209.
CME is in many ways a traditional TV operator with a mixture of pay and free-to-air channels but it does have digital assets, including several portals accompanying its main channels such as Protv.ro in Romania and Dnevnik.hr in Croatia, which publish news and offer VOD services. CME also owns Jyxo, the operator of Czech blog network Blog.cz, which it bought in May last year. The company also runs Croatian blog platform Blog.hr.
As part of the deal, Warner Bros and CME will set up a JV to launch a series of film and TV channels in CME's markets, some of which will be be Warner Bros-branded.
By Patrick Smith