Al Jazeera to buy Turkey’s Cine 5 TV station for $40.5 mln

February 12, 2011, Saturday/ 18:31:00/ TODAY'S ZAMAN

Cine 5 TV, founded in 1993 as Turkey’s first subscription-based TV channel, is likely to be bought by Doha-based Al Jazeera, which recently came to the fore with its coverage of the pro-democracy protests in Egypt, as the Qatari company’s $40.5 million offer was approved by the Savings Deposit Insurance Fund (TMSF) on Thursday.

Cine 5 TV was once owned by bankrupt media boss Erol Aksoy. The TV channel, along with a number of other media companies, as well as companies operating in other fields, were confiscated by the TMSF in 2004 when Aksoy’s debt of $945.1 million emerged as his İktisat Bank went bankrupt. The TMSF recently started to receive offers for Cine 5 TV, as well as for Viva TV, Radyo Viva and Show Radyo. The fund appraised Cine 5’s value at $40 million and Al Jazeera made an initial offer of $21 million at the end of last month, raising it to $40.5 million last week. The acquisition still needs approval from both the Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK) and the Competition Board.

Aksoy founded Cine 5 TV as a sister channel to Turkey’s first private channel, Show TV, 18 years ago. Winning the broadcasting rights of Turkish Super League football games, the channel boasted up to 700,000 subscribers in its heyday. However, seized by the TMSF over Aksoy’s debt, the channel lost popularity in Turkey and decided to continue its broadcasts free of charge in 2006. Aksoy later re-acquired the channel, claiming that he would repay his debts, but it was seized by the TMSF again when he failed to live up to the agreed on the payment plan.

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