TV Nova Sold

The dust is settling from last week’s hectic pace, and when I took a look at the news today, I was surprised to find that TV Nova has been sold back to CME for the princely sum of USD $642 million, which, when converted into Czech crowns, should get former owner Petr Kellner a Happy Meal or so.

Actually, even in crowns, the amount CME will be out of pocket to retake Nova will be substantially less, considering that the Czech government has to pay CZK 10 billion to CME after losing in arbitration. It’s great deal for CME and Ronald Lauder, because even though Nova’s quality been sliding from even its own low standard, its market share is still massive and set to stay that way.

What do you want to bet Jan Vavra has been studying Donald Trump on “The Apprentice,” just so that he can go up to Barrandov and say “máš padaka” to any number of Nova employees? I’m sure he hasn’t had too much to do as of late, so he’s got to be good at it by now. The sad irony is that it looks like he won’t even have that pleasure; CME management said they see no reason for heads to roll at Nova.

So to recap: CME is the owner again of TV Nova, former owners PPF have a princely sum on their hands, and once Petr Kellner’s thumbs turn blue from counting all his 5,000 Kč notes – two million, nine hundred sixty thousand 5,000 crown notes, to be exact – talk turns to what he’ll buy next. Could be other media holdings in the region, could be Czech Telecom, could be the Slavia football club (although I think PPF could buy something like 50 Slavias for that kind of dough). With that kind of money, the question is what Kellner can’t buy.

The only losers are – you guessed it – Czech taxpayers, who will be left holding the bill for losing the arbitration. And here you thought the cavalcade of stupidity was only on Nova’s estrada shows. After all, CZK 10,000 per person for every man, woman and child in the country is a small price to pay for this kind of entertainment, both on-screen and off, right?

4 thoughts on “TV Nova Sold

  1. What’s the deal with PPF, the former owners? I always heard they were a bunch of idealistic long hairs, charter signers etc., that thought right after the revolution they would create an uplifting, culturally focused broadcast company to help stem the tide of inrushing western low-brow entertainment. If that’s true, it took one whiff of the green to bring their real priorities out. Any truth to it that you know of?

  2. I love this country but the corruption here really upsets me. The Czechs now have to pay 10,000 each because of some crooked businessmen and that they were able to corrupt government officials. Someone should make a big noise about this to shake the Czechs up. This corruption is costing them and it must be cleaned up. The Czechs deserve better.

  3. David, while I share your sense of outrage, I can also appreciate the Švejk-like way this deal was pulled off. The big outrage of course was the thumb-fisted law that said broadcast licenses could only be granted to Czechs, which led to the entire Železný debacle in the first place.

    The second outrage, though, was that this was perpetrated very early on the watch of the supposedly right-of-center Civic Democrats (ODS), truly in the time of the Pirates.

    Steve, you might be confusing PPF with the idealists present at the birth of Nova itself. Železný himself portrayed their efforts as being non-cynical, and even promised that the station would pioneer ‘interactive’ TV. What they meant by that, of course, was the toll-call 0906 number-driven contests and vote schemes.

    I have to hand it to everybody involved in the deal, though. Everybody gets what they wanted, including – and it pains me to say this – Czech TV viewers, who loves them some Nova.

  4. You’re thinking of a different PPF, definitely. PPF is a front for unsavory characters from Points East. Anyway, from my journalist’s point of view (I arrived in 1996, shortly before the whole thing blew up) this conclusion to the Nova saga really takes the cake. Indeed, it’s a signal, I think: Prague is, like, SOOOO over.

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