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German Newspapers, Radio Attack ProSiebenSat.1's Move into Regional Ad Market

ProSiebenSat.1 logo - H 2012

Pan-European broadcaster ProSieben has started a three-month test run with local-targeted ads in Germany's largest state.

COLOGNE, Germany – ProSiebenSat.1, Europe's second largest broadcaster, has made its first move into regional television advertising in Germany, drawing fire from newspaper publishers and commercial radio channels.

The media authority in Germany's largest state, North Rhine Westphalia (NRW), has given ProSieben the go-ahead to carry out a three-month technical test of regional television advertising  on its national channels that air in NRW. The move will allow ProSieben to blend in local ads in between its national programming, something currently not allowed under Germany's strict laws governing TV advertising.

ProSieben will carry out the test on channels carried on cable group Unitymedia and on regional broadcaster WestCom Media. ProSieben carried out a similar test in the southern German state of Baden Wurttemberg last last year.  For the test phase, the regional advertisements will be promotional spots for Unitymedia, not third-party commercials.

But even that is too much for NRW newspaper publishers and the state's commercial radio stations, who see the move as threatening their livelihood. Regional newspapers and radio channels are heavily dependent on local advertising and fear if big national networks like ProSiebenSat.1 are allowed into the regional advertising market, they will squeeze out competitors, reducing media diversity.

Jurgen Brautmeier, director of NRW's media authority, was quick to assuage their fears, saying allowing the technical test did not mean ProSieben would now be allowed to program local advertising spots. 
“The law in NRW prevents national broadcasters from showing regional programming without a separate license,” Brautmeier said.

If ProSiebenSat.1 were allowed to enter the regional ad market, it could provide a new source of revenue growth for the TV giant.