Germany's Babelsberg Studios is planning to add a state-of-the-art multimedia production centre to house up to 30 companies, with construction scheduled to start as soon as spring 2001.

Babelsberg co-managing director Gerhard Bergfried said the move was in response to demand from multimedia companies looking for a base in Berlin-Brandenburg, and could also position the region, traditionally known as a film and TV location, as a major centre for multimedia production. Currently Germany's multimedia sector flourishes in Hamburg and Munich, which also house the country's main advertising agencies.

Bergfried also pointed to potential for synergies, as most of the film and TV productions on the Babelsberg lot are likely to benefit from easy access to high-tech multimedia outfits.

Building costs for the Multimedia Communication Centre are estimated at $6.9m (DM16m) and completion is scheduled for spring 2003. Financing is likely to be arranged through Germany's Landesinvestitionsbank. The centre is being modelled on Germany's Centre for Film and Television Production (ZZF), established five years ago, which is jointly owned by the city of Potsdam (51%) and Babelsberg (49%).

Babelsberg was rocked by the departure of two top executives - chairman Friedrich-Carl Wachs and Babelsberg Independents chief Arthur Hofer - earlier this year. However, Wachs has since headed back to Babelsberg to head up entertainment investment at investment outfit Producers AG which is based on the studio lot.