Premiere amps U.S. strategy

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COLOGNE, Germany -- German pay TV channel Premiere is stocking up on new U.S. series, acquiring German first-run rights to a slate of new shows including Iraq War drama "Over There" from Steve Bochco Prods. and 20th Century Fox; "Brothers & Sisters" from Touchtone Television/ABC and the Regency Television/FX Network drama "Thief."

The Munich-based channel also re-upped first-run pacts for "Lost," "Nip/Tuck" and "Criminal Minds."

The deals represent part of a broader strategy at Premiere, which is shifting to a more HBO-style approach, mixing first-run series with the traditional schedule of sports, films and adult entertainment.

The German television market for feature films, while still strong, has declined in recent years as the DVD market has grown. U.S. drama series, however, are enjoying a renaissance, with free-to-air stations dumping locally produced shows in favor of imports.

Premiere's first major move into U.S. series was its airing of the HBO/BBC co-production "Rome" in January. Since then, the channel has been gradually building up its schedule of high-end U.S. shows.
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