Since November 1, 2022, Bert Habets has been the new Group CEO of ProSiebenSat.1 Media SE. Ralf Peter Gierig has been Group CFO since January 1, 2022. Wolfgang Link retains responsibility for Entertainment, while Christine Scheffler continues to oversee HR, Compliance & Sustainability.
Our Group CEO Bert Habets was a guest in the “Late Night Berlin” studio and spoke with host Klaas Heufer-Umlauf about his start at ProSiebenSat.1, his plans for the company and the role of the streaming platform Joyn. Watch the complete interview in the video!
Bert, you took over the CEO job towards the end of a very challenging year. How do you look back on ProSiebenSat.1’s 2022?
The Russian war against Ukraine obviously had a huge impact on the economy, especially in our core market. Inflation rates and energy prices went up, causing a very difficult second half of the year across our whole Group. So, when I started in November, I immediately joined my Executive Board colleagues to manage the company very actively on the result basis as – due to this economic background – our full-year financial results decreased compared to the previous year.
Can you nonetheless also see a positive note in 2022?
Absolutely. Besides continuing to innovate and launch new formats, a very positive note for me was the launch of our own newsroom on January 1, for which we have been gearing up last year. We now produce the news for our channels and platforms such as Joyn ourselves. Having a news organization inside your organization creates new ideas for programming and for us it’s very important to add an independent news organization in the German landscape. In general, it’s crucial that we can offer a platform for socially relevant themes and create an audience for that. We take our corporate and social responsibility seriously. That’s why we are committed to supporting the formation of opinions and promotion of democracy, championing diversity and equality as well as advancing climate and environmental protection, among other things.
“We offer a platform for socially relevant themes and create an audience for that.”
You just mentioned the streaming platform Joyn. Can you tell us a bit more about your plans?
Joyn was part of a joint venture with Discovery for many years. We onboarded Joyn 100% on the first day of my start as CEO, on November 1. Now we are in control of our own destiny in developing the service. That’s not an easy assignment as there is a lot of competition in the streaming landscape, and many big players are not earning money. Thus, a huge industry challenge – while at the same time we see it as a big part of our future. To differentiate us, we position Joyn as a freely accessible service for the whole family in the premium content domain. We’re at the very beginning to build this. Studio71 talents, TV presenters as well as industry partners such as producers, but also other broadcasters or publishers will be invited to join and bring in their creative ideas for premium programs. That is the beauty of the brand name: join us in this dialogue and start creating new formats for this platform.
“That is the beauty of the brand name: join us and start creating new formats for this platform.”Chairman of the Executive Board (Group CEO)
How do you assess the outlook for 2023 on top of that?
Economically, we expect the first half of 2023 still to be very difficult, hopefully we will see a recovery in the second half of this year. We will continue our strategic dialogue throughout the year with all the colleagues, the capital market investors, but also business partners like advertisers and agencies. If you reflect and take one step back on us as a company, you can say that we are in the business of competing for leisure time. We want every minute of your leisure time to be spent on our services. So, maximizing this viewing time across TV, Joyn and all our digital offers is our goal. We generate revenues through the traditional way of selling advertising, but also through different monetization forms like subscription and commerce. We have a big Commerce & Ventures business, that interacts in a very creative and successful way with German entrepreneurs in building new businesses with the power of TV and our digital services. Even in a macro economic climate that will remain challenging, there will be new growth opportunities for our Commerce & Ventures business to create shareholder value. And our Dating & Video business is actually an extension of that.
The 2022 Annual and Consolidated Financial Statements were published later than planned due to regulatory issues at the Jochen Schweizer mydays business. Can you give us an update on this?
At the end of February, we informed that open questions had arisen at Jochen Schweizer mydays regarding possible regulatory requirements. Specifically, the issue was if parts of the business activities of the two companies Jochen Schweizer GmbH and mydays GmbH fall under the German Payment Services Supervision Act (Zahlungsdiensteaufsichtsgesetz - ZAG). A task force comprising representatives from various internal departments and external experts dealt with the matter promptly, but above all with due care. This meant that we stopped the sale of certain vouchers as a precautionary measure and asked the German Federal Financial Supervisory Authority (BaFin) to review processes and certain products – with the result that the adjustment of the product offering was successful and that Jochen Schweizer and mydays therefore do not require an authorization from BaFin to continue operating their adjusted product offering. We remain in a constructive exchange with BaFin in this regard. In this context, we have also adjusted the accounting for these companies retrospectively. At the same time, we are working to ensure that we can offer the customers of Jochen Schweizer and mydays the broadest possible and even improved range of products.