a media industry resource

Kirch and Saban: landmarks


This chronology is indicative only. It covers -

  • beginnings
  • film production and libraries (1969)
  • television (1984)
  • buys Formula 1 rights (2001)
  • collapse (2002)
  • Saban (2003)

Context is provided by the broader communications and media timeline on this site.


1926 Leo Kirch born in Würzburg, later gains doctorate in business administration and becomes assistant professor in economics at Munich University

1959 Leo Kirch establishes Beta Film as German distributor for US feature films

1960 Kirch buys rights to package of Buster Keaton feature films from the actor

1963 TaurusFilm established, later becomes largest producer of film and television content for German-speaking market

1964 Kirch and Herbert von Karajan form Cosmotel classical music film production company

1968 Kirch forms IdunaFilm (now TaurusProduktion) production company for feature films and TV movies

1968 Verlagsunion founded as a magazine sales joint venture by Bauer (51%) and Kauka Verlag (49%)

Film production and libraries

1969 Kirch buys German rights to 1,000 film titles in Howard Hughes/RKO Library (inc Citizen Kane)

1970 Kirch buys Kauka interests in Verlagsunion

1971 Kirch buys Hal Roach Library - over 1,200 classic films

1975 TaurusMediaTechnik established

1975 Haim Saban moves to Paris after activity as a concert promoter in Israel

1983 Kirch forms TaurusVideo productions, with most rights subsequently licenced to ailing KinoWelt group


1984 launches Swiss pay-TV channel Teleclub

1984 buys 10% stake in Axel Springer

1984 launches PKS, forerunner of SAT.1

1988 buys a stake in the German commercial channel SAT.1

1988 pay-tv channel Teleclub goes on air in Germany, subsequently absorbed by Premiere

1989 Kirch buys Deutscher Bücherbund, the dominant German book club, from Holtzbrinck for DM250m

1989 ProSieben tv channel launched

1989 Bauer buys Erich Pabel-Arthur Moewig Semrau KG

1989 EM.TV founded

1989 Saban sells 25% of licensing business to RTL for US $15m

1990 Filmproduktion Janus and Scorpio Film formed by Kirch to produce game shows, telemovies and documentaries.

1990 Premiere pay-tv channel established by Kirch (25%), Bertelsmann and Vivendi's Canal Plus

1991 Internationale Sportrechte-Verwertungsgesellschaft (ISPR) founded in partnership with Axel Springer

1991 buys 8% of Italian pay-tv channel Telepiù (by 1997 owns 45%)

1992 buys former DEFA Studios in East Berlin

1992 buys majority share in Neue Deutsche Filmgesellschaft (ndF) (later increased to 90%)

1992 buys 24.5% stake in German commercial station Tele 5

1993 Tele 5 renamed DSF and becomes Germany's first commercial channel devoted solely to sport

1993 buys 25% stake in Telecinco, Spain

1994 buys stake in Radio Arabella, Munich (sold 1998)

1994 opposition by European Commission's cartel office kills Media Service GmbH (MSG) digital TV joint venture of Bertelsmann, Kirch Group and Deutsche Telekom

1995 Kirch takes 15% stake in Berlusconi's Mediaset

1995 joint venture between Saban Entertainment and Fox Kids TV. Saban buys back RTL stake for US$40m

1996 Kirch launched DF1 digital satellite program package with 32 digital channels

1997 Saban and Fox buy televangelist Pat Robertson's Family Channel cable tv network for US$1.9bn

1997 Kirch moves to majority interest in SAT.1 (59% from 44%)

1997 EM.TV lists on Neuer Markt

1998 Kirch establishes JUNIOR.TV

1999 increases holding in Prisma Sports & Media AG to 85% and television station Hamburg 1 to 59.6%

1999 News-controlled BSkyB takes stake in Kirch, which sells stake in BSkyB

1999 Mediaset buys 2.48% stake in Kirch

1999 KirchMedia established as holding group

1999 TaurusLizenz and TaurusSport established

1999 EM.TV buys 50% stake in Yoram Gross Film Studios from Village Roadshow

1999 Epsilon MediaGroup established as 50% partnership with Berlusconi's Mediaset

2000 MediaGruppe München and Media 1 merge to form SevenOne Media

2000 EM.TV pays US$680 million for The Jim Henson Company

2001 merger of Kirch Media and subsidiary ProSiebenSat announced

Buys Formula 1 rights

2001 Kirch buys 51% stake in Formula 1 rights holder SLEC Holdings for US$1.54 billion

2001 News takes 2.48% stake in Kirch

2001 Kirch buys Axel Springer's share in Sport1, taking equity to 76.5%

2001 Saban prompts sale of Fox Family Worldwide to Disney for US$5.3bn

2001 Bauer buys Polish magazine Twój Styl for US$14.5m

2001 Dresdner Bank demands repayment of U$400m loan, subsequently extended

2001 KirchMedia CEO Dieter Hahn tells Reuters that group's debt is up to US$5.5bn


2002 Axel Springer demands €767m from Kirch, announcing intention to exercise put option to sell its 11.5% stake in ProSiebenSat.1

2002 Deutsche Bank CEO Rolf Breuer expresses doubts about group's creditworthiness

2002 Kirch abandons plans to merge KirchMedia with ProSieben

2002 banks put Kirch into receivership

2002 individual Kirch units declare bankruptcy, banks begin dismantling group

2002 News writes off US$1bn in ProSiebenSat

2002 'in principle' agreed takeover by Bauer of core Kirch units

2003 takeover by Bauer does not proceed

2003 consortium led by retailer Karstadt-Quelle buys Kirch's DSF sports tv station

2003 EM.TV sells Henson back to Henson family for US$89m


2003 announcement of 'in principle' agreed takeover of ProSiebenSat assets (for £915m), other Kirch networks and film library by Saban Group

2005 Axel Springer announces acquisition of Saban's stake in ProSiebenSat for around €2.5bn (Saban's P7S1 Holding gains 2.4% stake in Springer)

2006 Axel Springer deal abandoned after refusal by regulators

2006 KKR and Permira agree to buy ProSiebenSat.1 for US$7.6bn