Kinowelt, the German distribution, licensing and production giant, has sold a package of films from its famously hard to shift Warner Bros catalogue to state broadcaster ZDF. The deal should help defuse some of the recent criticism of the group.

The 21-picture package for free TV is made up of 19 titles from the Warner catalogue and two Kinowelt titles. Warner films licensed to ZDF include Batman & Robin, Contact and the revised cinema version of Flipper as well as classic older titles A Streetcar Named Desire, Rio Bravo and The Postman Always Rings Twice.

Kinowelt said that it is now in negotiations with ZDF concerning a larger package of international films and is simultaneously talking with other broadcasters on various part-packages containing Kinowelt and Warner titles.

The group has recently been the subject of much speculation among financiers and film sellers, who have noted the apparent difficulty that Kinowelt has had in re-licensing the Warner package, which it bought last year. Some broadcasters which were outbid by Kinowelt claimed that they were being asked to pay inflated prices for the Warner films and top titles including The Matrix remain unsold to German TV.

But Kinowelt co-chief Rainer Koelmel last week dismissed as "utter nonsense" rumours that the $250m package is being sold back to Warner at a discount. He pointed out that Kinowelt has not yet taken delivery of the entire package and, therefore, not yet paid for it in full. He also explained that he expects to sign film supply deals with a number of other local and specialist TV operators.