Red Bull gulps Salzburg TV

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MUNICH -- The Austrian soft drink company Red Bull has received a green light from the country's media watchdogs to take over 95% of the regional channel Salzburg TV, the company said Tuesday.

Industry observers believe this is the first time a broadcaster has been bought out by a food production company, certainly in Europe.

"Those who know Red Bull won't be surprised (by the move,)" said a company spokeswoman. "We follow our own marketing strategy, and we're only a soft drink company in a different sense of the phrase."

The broadcaster, which has a penetration of about 760,000 households in and around Salzburg, currently focuses on traditional Austrian programming. While the spokeswoman did not want to comment on the changes Red Bull is planning to make, media reports quoted company CEO Dietrich Mateschitz as saying he wanted it to be "more dynamic, youthful and innovative."

But the broadcaster will not become a four- to six-hour daily commercial for Red Bull, the reports said. Salzburg TV is available free-to-air and over cable and could become accessible throughout the continent via satellite.

Red Bull has some experience in the media industry, through its Red Bulletin publisher of the magazine Seitenblicke. Its sports holdings are numerous, including the New York soccer club Red Bull New York (formerly Metrostars) as well as two Formula One auto racing teams and its own sporting event, the Red Bull Air Race World Series -- the rights to which have been sold worldwide, including to Fox Sports in the U.S.
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