Czech Premiera TV reshuffles posts to please shareholders

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PRAGUE - The Czech Republic's Premiera TV has replaced director-general Jiri Mejstrik with chairman Milos Petana as part of its strategy to convert the station from a cash-bleeder into a profitable investment.

Mejstrik will be deputy director responsible for maintaining relationships with the 50 local and regional stations which work with the privately-owned regional Czech broadcaster.

The move is prompted by shareholders who want more say in the management of the business. Premiera TV recently reported losses of about $16.3 million over the past two years with advertising turnover of only $1.8 million.

Mejstrik declined to comment on the decision, but Petana said the move was "in connection with the new development plan for Premiera TV. The shareholders want more direct influence in the management of the station." The shareholders are Investicni a Postovni banka (IPB) with 20%, FTV Premiera, a holding company wholly-owned by the same bank with 41% and the Stratton Group with 15%. The remaining 24% is split between the largest Czech insurance firm Ceska pojistovna (10%) and its investment arm Kapitalova investicni spolecnost (14%).

Petana's plans include the acquisition of new transmitters, which he hopes will eventually increase the station's reach from its current 55-60% of Czech TV households to 85-90%. But there is no clear indication that much will change under Petana, since he has presided over the station's poor development as a long-serving board chairman and he has little experience in the business of broadcasting.

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