Schawinski to leave Sat.1

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COLOGNE, Germany -- Roger Schawinski has resigned as managing director of Berlin-based commercial network Sat.1 and will leave at the end of the year, Sat.1 said Wednesday.

Schawinski was brought in to run Sat.1 three years ago by Haim Saban after the mogul bought up the channel's parent company, ProSiebenSat.1.

Now, as Saban prepares to sell ProSiebenSat.1 to the highest bidder, Schawinski is leaving.

"It's been three challenging and exciting years at Sat.1, and I'm proud to have produced record results in each of these years," Schawinski said. "(But) I've already stayed a year longer than I had planned."

With his comments, Schawinski is perhaps alluding to Saban's unsuccessful attempt to sell ProSiebenSat.1 to German publishing group Axel Springer. A takeover agreement was signed last year, but the deal subsequently fell apart.

Matthias Alberti, currently deputy managing director and head of entertainment programming at Sat.1, will replace Schawinski.

Schawinski is credited with transforming Sat.1 from a staid, conservative channel to arguably the territory's most cutting-edge programmer.

Sat.1 has been responsible for some of the most successful and critically acclaimed German TV productions of the past three years, from documentary-style comedies "Pastewka" and "Stromberg" to such mega-budget miniseries as "Ring of the Nibelungs" and "Berlin Airlift" to the telenovela hit "That's Life."

The bottom line also has improved under Schawinski's reign. In 2003, the channel booked a pre-tax profit of €4 million. This year, in the first nine months alone, Sat.1 earned €127 million ($167 million).

Alberti joined Sat.1 in 2002 from competitor RTL. He has overseen production of some of Sat.1's most successful shows, including science entertainment format "Clever" and quiz-comedy show "Genial Daneben."

Alberti will take over as Sat.1 managing director Jan. 1.

He likely will be reporting to a new boss. Saban's auction of ProSiebenSat.1 is expected to close before the end of the year.
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