CBS Studios sets up Munich sales office

Expansion comes after similar moves by Disney, NBCU

COLOGNE, Germany -- CBS Studios International now is brushing up on its Deutsch, setting up a branch office in Munich to handle sales of "Melrose Place," or "Californication" to the German market.

Veteran sales exec Oliver Kreuter will head up the office, reporting to Joe Lucas, executive vp of sales at CBS Studios International. Kreuter joins CBS from German TV giant Bavaria Media, where he was head of television acquisition and sales.

CBS' German expansion follows similar moves by Disney, NBC Universal, Sony and Warner, which already have local sales operations here. CBS Studios International operates 10 sales offices worldwide.

"With the increasing importance of the German media market, we feel it essential to establish a local presence," said CBS Studios International president Armando Nunez.

CBS already has a major on-air presence in Germany, licensing primetime series including "CSI" and "NCIS" to top tier networks. But the German market is becoming increasingly diversified. Cable groups and telecos are buying up programming rights and there's been an explosion of new digital TV channels all of them hungry for library product.

CBS is well positioned to feed that demand. In addition to its current slate, which also includes new series "NCIS: Los Angeles" and "The Good Wife," CBS Studios' has rights to around 70,000 hours of programming, from classics such as "Gunsmoke," "Star Trek" and "Cheers" to hipper titles from the Showtime catalogue like "Dexter. Its rights library is set to grow even further in 2011.

That's when licensing deals with the now-defunct KirchGroup finally expire and German rights to hundreds of hours of old films and series revert back to CBS.