Premiere World getting out of trouble?



At the end of 2001 the German Premiere World broadcaster still only has 2.4 million subscribers and seemed to be going nowhere but into the hands of Rupert Murdoch. Mr Murdoch’s News Corp holds a 22% stake in PW and, more importantly, holds a debt note for £1 billion repayable this September.

The broadcaster’s figures mirror the problems throughout the rest of Leo Kirch’s media empire. Last year PW turned over £550 million but lost £650 million! To break even it needs to make savage cuts in its costs. In order to gain further support from its banks PW yesterday outlined its plan to get into profit by 2004. Firstly 3% of its 2,400-strong workforce will be cut this year. New cheaper subscription deals will be offered and more anti piracy measures will be used. And PW hope to address the cripplingly high program and film contracts it has entered into. Like ITV Digital many analysts perceive that Kirch bought these contracts at the top of the market and they will have to be renegotiated.

The breakeven subscriber figure has been reduced – providing these cuts are made – to 3.1 million subscribers in 2004.

Premiere World use code changes
The German Premiere World broadcaster appears to have woken to the fact that if it wants to evade Mr Murdoch’s clutches it has to generate more money. And what better way than to convert all the pirate viewers to buying an official subscription? Over the past 7 days Premiere World has used a number of major code changes changing not only the access keys but other keys as well. On top of this activity it is believed that the broadcaster intends to start using Betacrypt 2 later this Summer – swapping their existing smartcards for the new Betacrypt 2 cards.

Betacrypt 2 goes on show at the end of April at the Cable Show in Cologne. According to Premiere World the new cards use a completely different structure to Betacrypt 1 but will work in existing d-boxes and CAMs.

So – Irdeto II last year, Viaccess II (TPSCrypt for TPS) January/February/March, Seca II coming up in April (Spain followed by Italy, Holland and Belgium with France in October) and Betacrypt II rolling out this Summer.