Echoing the experience of several other publicly listed German media companies this year, producer/rights trader Helkon Media has downgraded its sales and earnings expectations for the 2000/2001 financial year

Sales are now expected to total $111.9m (DM 240m) rather than the planned $148.2m (DM 318m), although this would still translate into an increase of 61.3% over the previous financial year's $69.4m (DM 148.8m). Similarly, earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) will amount to $11.7m (DM 25m) rather than the originally anticipated $21m (DM 45m) - up 65.6 % from the 1999/2000 financial year's figure of $7m (DM 15.1m).

With the new projected pre-tax profits of $11.7m as much as $9.3m below target, Helkon's share value on the Neuer Markt fell more than 20% to Euros 2.32 at the news.

According to an ad-hoc release, the downward correction has been caused, among other things, by the postponement of the US theatrical release of Rollerball by MGM to February 2002 due to delays in the film's postproduction, meaning that sales and earnings cannot be booked until the second quarter of the 2001/2002 financial year.

In addition, Hollywood producer, Joel Singer with whom the company has an output agreement, has announced proceedings in accordance with Chapter 7 BC, which will result in the German company having to correct its budget figures for the financial year 2000/2001.

Helkon also explained that, as a result of recent events in the USA, its 51%-owned subsidiary Newmarket Capital Group and 75.1 % -owned subsidiary Helkon International Pictures have delayed their final audits per 31 July 2001, and the group's management has applied to the German Stock Exchange for a six-week extension to the deadline for the publication of the company's annual results for 2000/2001.

The final figures for the financial year now ended will therefore be announced on 12 December 2001, and the shareholders AGM will be postponed until the end of January 2002.

Meanwhile, beleaguered Kinowelt has been set an ultimatum by public broadcaster ZDF to indicate whether it will be able to deliver such Warner titles as The Matrix, Pokemon and The Avengers which had been part of a $18.6m (DM 40m) package concluded with the TV channel earlier this year.

The German daily newspaper Die Welt quoted ZDF director of programmes Markus Schaechter as saying that his channel "needs clarity by the end of next week" as to whether Kinowelt can deliver the films. If this doesn't happen soon, ZDF would have to look elsewhere for films to fill slots in its 2002 schedules.

In any case, ZDF had not yet put its final signature to the deal and so no money has passed to Kinowelt.

Die Welt further reported that fellow public broadcaster ARD had had similar problems with delivery of films from Kinowelt. "As with ZDF our demands could not be fulfilled", declared ARD's director of programmes Guenter Struve. "Kinowelt had not been able to provide proof that they actually have the films at their disposal".