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CEO Conze leaves ProSiebenSat.1

Germany’s ProSiebenSat.1 has reorganised its executive board, with CEO Max Conze stepping down with immediate effect as the broadcast giant pledges to re-focus on entertainment.

Max Conze

Chief financial officer Rainer Beaujean has been named chairman of the executive board, while Wolfgang Link, co-CEO of the group’s entertainment unit since last year, has been appointed to the executive board.

Joining Link on the board is Christine Scheffler, who has been chief human resources officer at ProSiebenSat.1 since early 2019.

Conze’s exit after two years follows a difficult start to 2020 for the firm, which has seen its share price tumble, the cancellation of the sale of its international production subsidiary Red Arrow Studios and the exit of numerous high-ranking execs.

These include one of the co-CEOs of its entertainment arm and deputy CEO Conrad Albert, who is due to leave at the end of April.

Earlier this month, Albert was quoted in the local media as saying the “outstanding” business was suffering from a “boardroom soap opera.”

The company has said the executive board changes will be accompanied by a change in strategy to return to its primary focus on the entertainment sector in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

It said its main emphasis will be on local and live formats, produced in close cooperation with Red Arrow Studios and Studio71, as well as extending its digital reach on streaming platforms, such as Joyn.

This comes after Conze attempted to diversifying the group’s business in recent years, taking stakes in numerous e-commerce companies and a dating app in a bid to emulate Chinese giants such as iQiyi.

However, ProSieben Sat.1 said in a statement yesterday: “Existing investments that benefit from advertising on the entertainment platforms will continue to be developed to generate value and sold in due course under an active portfolio policy.”

Werner Brandt, chairman of the supervisory board at ProSiebenSat.1 Media, said: “The supervisory board would like to thank Max Conze for his service. He has navigated the company through a difficult period with resolution and determination. I have full confidence in the new executive board team.

“Rainer Beaujean, a manager with analytical and implementation prowess, is assuming the chairmanship of the executive board. His 20 years of board experience will be of great benefit to the company, particularly at this critical time. In Wolfgang Link and Christine Scheffler, we also have two highly capable new appointees to the executive board whose portfolios are key to the future success of ProSiebenSat.1.”

Beaujean said: “This company has far greater potential than is currently credited to it from outside. Under the leadership of the new executive board team, we will now return to focusing more strongly on our core segment of entertainment and on sustainably profitable business. While the coronavirus pandemic poses a huge challenge for us in the weeks and months ahead, I firmly believe that we will emerge from this crisis all the stronger and return to generating shareholder value.”

In related news, ProSieben Germany has ordered a quick-turnaround live music special from Red Arrow Studios-owned Redseven Entertainment.

Claiming to be one of the largest ‘living room’ music festivals ever, The Great ProSieben Living Room Festival will see more than 40 stars from around the world perform live from their homes.

Acts already confirmed include Melanie C, Dermot Kennedy, Dua Lipa, Mando Diao, Scooter, Ava Max, Johannes Oerding, Josh Groban, The BossHoss, Patricia Kelly, Roachford, Tom Gregory, Rea Garvey, Yvonne Catterfeld, Mark Forster, Nico Santos, Thees Uhlmann and Giovanni Zarella.

ProSieben channel manager Daniel Rosemann said: “Music’s power is to connect people, and especially during these times we want to make it easier for our viewers to stay at home and be entertained. I would like to thank all of the artists who spontaneously agreed to help us celebrate this unique festival.”

Jobst Benthues, CEO of Redseven Entertainment, said: “Redseven loves a challenge, and we are excited to produce this major new live entertainment event that sees stars in their own homes, reaching out to audiences in their homes. Unprecedented times like these forces everyone to step up, and it’s an honour to be producing a show that brings together so many talented and creative people.”

Redseven has also been commissioned by Kabel Eins in Germany to produce new daily cooking show We Cook Together! At Home With a Top Chef.

The show will bring viewers into their home kitchens to teach them how to cook healthy meals.

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