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Pavol Rusko loses Markíza TV

FORMER Economy Minister Pavol Rusko is no longer a co-owner of private television station Markíza. Central European Media Enterprises (CME) announced that it has taken steps to acquire a controlling share in TV Markíza after an agreement with its three partners in Slovakia.

CME has thus increased its share to 80 percent, the daily SME reported.

The total value of the share sale is estimated at $28.7 million (€23.75) and is due in two payments.

Rusko is not only losing the television station that he founded but also most probably the media tool with which to promote his New Citizen's Alliance (ANO) political party.

Slovak politicians welcomed the move and agreed that the news reporting of TV Markíza was becoming far from objective.

The Christian Democratic Movement (KDH), which has already announced a boycott of the television station, said it might stop boycotting Markíza if the reporting gets better.

Ján Kováčik and Milan Filo keep their minority shares in the television station.

Approximately $23.8 million (€19.7 million) is payable on closing the transaction and the remaining $4.9 million (€4 million) by May 31, 2006, and the deal is scheduled to close by the end of 2005. The sale is conditional on approval from Slovakia's Anti-Monopoly Bureau.

TV Markíza, which first came on air in 1996, has the highest number of viewers of the TV competitors in Slovakia. The station's signal can be picked up by as many as 97 percent of Slovakia's population and it enjoyed a 32-percent share of viewers across the day in the first nine months of 2005.

CME (US, but based in the Bahamas) is active in six eastern and central European countries, accounting for some 90 million viewers. Besides TV Markiza, CME has a share in Nova TV in Croatia, TV Nova and Galaxie Sport in the Czech Republic, PRO TV, ACASA and PRO Cinema in Romania, POP TV and Kanal A in Slovenia and Studio 1+1 in Ukraine. CME shares are traded on the NASDAQ and the Prague Stock Exchange under CETV, the TASR news wire reported.

Compiled by Beata Balogová from press reports
The Slovak Spectator cannot vouch for the accuracy of the information presented in its Flash News postings.

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