BUSINESS

REBEL WITH A GLOBAL VISION

JOHN DALY June 8 1992
BUSINESS

REBEL WITH A GLOBAL VISION

JOHN DALY June 8 1992

REBEL WITH A GLOBAL VISION

BUSINESS

Moses Znaimer, president of Toronto's independent CITY TV and canada's two national music video channels, MuchMusic and

MusiquePlus, speaks in an ornate style-full of references to the "esthetic" and "flow" of his station's programming. And like his rival, loquacious publishing tycoon Conrad Black, Znaimer is pursuing an ambitious business strategy of international expansion. But while Black is a pillar of the establishment, the stylish Znaimer, 49, clearly revels in his image as an industry reb el. Still, Znaimer has man aged to attract the supoort of

three of the world’s richest and most respected entertainment companies, Britain’s Thames Television PLC, Japan’s Sony Pictures Entertainment and WinnipegI based CanWest Global Communications Corp., for his most audacious venture to 1_:

date: a bid for a fifth British television channel, serving more than three-quarters of the island country’s population. If the bid succeeds, the br ad astei plans li t Caí a » n

CITY TV format is an archetype.”

At first glance, Znaimer appears to be an

unlikely choice to head the high-powered consifetium. officially named FiveTV Ltd. Although MuchMusic provides its signal to satellite services around the world and has sold several of its shows abroad, it has no /. ivei subsidi •a though Znaimer has spent ^ more than a year preparing his bid, his three backers are ■ o\ i in ■. the Í for the channel, which could cost $300 million to launch. If their bid is successful, the three companies plan to be equal partners in the venture. Znaimer would be only a minor shareholder, but he would serve as the channel’s chief executive. Several nidable riv : ng for the li-

Inc., Britain’s TV-AM and Black himself.

Executives with the FiveTV partners say 1 that they decided to support Znaimer precisely because of his unorthodox approach.

He plans to replicate CITY TV and its lowi cost programming mix of local news, music and movies in several British cities. Currently, none of the four conventional television networks in Britain (two operated by the British Broadcasting Corp. and two privately owned) has a local station. Declared CanWest Global chairman Israel (Izzy) Aspei: “That is what is missing from the British market.” The deadline for appli. tdepei ■. B 1 i ion Commission is July 7, and the regulator will likely make a decision by September.

Znaimer said that the FiveTV concept could easily be transported to continental Europe, which is also dominated by national state-owned networks. Declared Znaimer: “There are two parallel forces at work in

pression of local identity. The process for one creates the need for another.” At least that is the premise that FiveTV hopes Britain’s television regulators will endorse.

JOHN DALY