Miramax Films' newly-promoted chief operating officer Rick Sands (pictured) has confirmed that Miramax Films will no longer be selling its films to independents in Germany, but will instead set up its own marketing operation and partner with sister company Buena Vista International (BVI) to handle physical distribution.

Miramax already has alliances with BVI in Italy and Australia, sells many of its titles to BVI in the UK and has a distribution partnership in France with TV giant TF1.

"Germany is a very strong market," said Sands in Milan this week, "but TV is having a rough time right now. Because TV rights are not available for three years, independents are not able to pay the prices we need. Therefore we have to set up on our own."

In the past, Sands has done deals in Germany with Concorde, Highlight, Constantin, Tobis and Splendid.

BVI is reportedly close to a new output deal with pay-TV platform Premiere into which Miramax would likely tap. Although parent company Kirch Group is currently in bankruptcy, Premiere signed a multiyear output deal with MGM and acquired a package of films from Warner Bros at MIPCOM last month. Similar arrangements had been made with DreamWorks, 20th Century Fox and Universal since the Kirch collapse in May, with BVI, Sony and Paramount yet to be renewed.

Sands said that he is selling as usual in Asia, Latin America and remaining territories in Europe such as Spain and Scandinavia.

The Miramax sales team was joined at the MIFED film market by company co-chairman Harvey Weinstein, who was seen strolling the halls of the Fiera on Sunday before attending the world premiere screening of Chicago for buyers that night.