CAMPAIGN REPORT ON EUROPEAN MEDIA: The media entrepreneurs - Look out Murdoch - there’s a new breed of movers and shakers on the global media stage with solid track records and far-reaching ambitions. We profile five of the most influential



Chief Executive

Mediaset, Italy

Maurizio Carlotti is the man Silvio Berlusconi has entrusted to drive

forward Mediaset, Italy’s biggest media and production group. Mediaset,

which is owned by Fininvest, controls many domestic broadcasting

interests and has holdings in Spain as well as its programme production

arm, RTI.

Carlotti sits at the upper management table alongside Mediaset’s

president, Fedele Confaloniere, who is often described as the elder

statesman of the group. Confaloniere, according to sources, ’spends most

of his time in Rome lobbying and building the Mediaset brand’. But it is

Carlotti who holds the reins of power at the company.

Carlotti was trusted with Berlusconi’s core business after having proved

himself in Spain, where he headed Mediaset’s Telecinco. According to

analysts, he did a ’fantastic job’ there, and is set to steer Mediaset

onwards and upwards.

Carlotti has been parachuted into the Italian operation as a

troubleshooter to ensure that the crucial pan-European deals for

Mediaset happen when they are supposed to. Carlotti is renowned for

spotting gaps in the market and anticipating consumer trends.

Mediaset insiders say Carlotti has various mantras that he recites such

as: ’I want to be the most profitable, rather than the biggest TV

station.’ Nick Bertolotti, an analyst at JP Morgan in London, says:

’Carlotti has a very, very good reputation and we expect great things of


Carlotti put himself on the map by negotiating a Europe-wide television

joint venture with the German media magnate, Leo Kirch. The deal was

critical for the Italian group, as it positioned Mediaset as a central

buyer of rights. These are then exploited on a pan-European basis

through a content, distribution and sales arm, which can sell

pan-European advertising packages.

The move is described by Bertolotti as ’pretty visionary’.

Carlotti is also looking at the potential for telephony, as the group

has been awarded the fourth mobile telephone licence in Italy. He is

currently putting the final touches to Mediaset’s three-year plan that

will be unveiled later this year. Also on Carlotti’s agenda is a hunt

for more partners.

Mediaset works with Sat 1 in Germany and Telecinco in Spain, but

Bertolotti says the group is actively looking for partners in France and

the UK.

Hilary Curtis

The Carlotti File

1979 Director-general of Tele Venezia, a local TV station

1982 Commercial director and publicity commissioner for local TV

1986 Director of sales, Fininvest Group

1991 Director of marketing, Fininvest Group

1994 Director-general of press, Telecinco

Present Chief executive, Mediaset


Managing Director

Financial Times, UK

In the flesh, Olivier Fleurot comes across as engaging and quietly


He is also French, a fact of which much was made when he was appointed

by Pearson as managing director of the Financial Times in January - the

first time a non-Anglo-Saxon had taken charge of a major UK daily.

But while modesty might prevent him from saying so, Fleurot had all the

credentials for the job. During his tenure as chief executive of Les

Echos group, also owned by Pearson, the company’s operating profits

tripled, from Fr42 million (pounds 4.1 million) to Fr128 million (pounds

12.7 million), and turnover rose 12 per cent.

Nevertheless, Fleurot admits he was surprised when he was approached for

the position. ’It was a risk. I didn’t know how the English would accept

me and how I would manage the FT’s international ambitions,’ he


Eight months on, he appears to be rising to the challenge. ’They haven’t

kicked me out the building yet,’ he jokes. Colleagues speak

appreciatively of his laid-back approach. In the style of his ultimate

boss, the Pearson chief executive, Marjorie Scardino, he favours an open

business culture and is often to be found walking around the offices of

the FT, chatting to staff and taking the pulse of the operation.

He has high aspirations for the paper. ’I see a window of opportunity

for the FT to become one of two or three global business media brands,’

he says. The FT now has three separate editions and sales of the paper

in the US stand at just under 80,000.

Fleurot recognises that international expansion cannot be at the expense

of the core product. He wants to see the UK edition return to its

circulation highs of the 1980s. ’I cannot accept a decline in the FT’s

circulation,’ he says. ’Business papers in other European countries are

enjoying growth and there is no reason why that should not be the case


Fleurot never drew up a career plan, which was probably wise. His first

job was as an engineer, but three years of this, including time spent in

the US, convinced him to try for what he felt instinctively was his true

vocation: journalism. He joined Les Echos, where he specialised in IT. A

stint running a software company with a friend followed. But if Fleurot

had a destiny it was in newspapers for, in 1988, he was invited back to

Les Echos, this time as marketing director.

He has crossed the journalism/management divide, but his first-hand

knowledge of the editorial process has stood him in good stead. He is

said to earn the trust of editors.

Fleurot’s career path is unlikely to deviate again. ’I love this

business because there is no routine,’ he says. Tracey Taylor

The Fleurot File

Education Ecole Nationale Superieure des Mines, France

Career history Engineer for three years, then journalist in trade

magazines and at Les Echos, where he specialised in IT

1984 Launched software company with partner

1988 Marketing, circulation and communications director, Les Echos

1996 Chief executive, Groupe Les Echos

1999 Managing director, Financial Times




Fred Klinkhammer describes his role as president of Central European

Media Enterprises as ’largely one of mentoring people’. He says this can

only be done by setting the right example. ’My belief is that you have

to be vulnerable - which sounds like a strange word in business - but it

is important that people acknowledge your weaknesses as well as your

strengths,’ he says.

Klinkhammer says he is often described as someone who gives people all

the rope they want, providing they know that he holds the other end.

The Canadian-born executive joined CME in March 1999, in the middle of a

crisis over the ultimate control of the successful Czech channel, Nova

TV, run by CME’s former partner, Vladimir Zelezny. By the end of the

month, Klinkhammer had struck a pounds 384 million merger deal with

Scandinavian Broadcast Systems (SBS), which owns commercial TV channels

across Scandinavia as well as in Switzerland, Belgium and Hungary.

When the merger with SBS is completed in December, Klinkhammer will

relinquish his chief executive role and become one of three senior

executives of the newly fused corporation. ’This is the way Mr Sloan

(Harry Sloan, the chief executive of SBS) chooses to describe it,’ says

Klinkhammer. ’My understanding is that I will function in a chief

operating capacity.’

Insiders suggest that Klinkhammer’s greatest skill is motivating


’I get staff to do things that they don’t think they are capable of,’ he

says, and he describes the thrill they get at watching what he calls

their ’psychic income’ come in.

Klinkhammer started working in the broadcast industry in 1972, shortly

after graduating from Ryerson University. He co-founded City TV in

Canada, and holds a gold medal for personal achievement in broadcasting

in Canada.

The current role of crisis management for CME is, he admits, his most

challenging yet. ’It has involved living separately from my family,

which is tough as we had just relocated to London,’ he says. ’Now I

spend 80 per cent of my time in central Europe.’ He adds that

communicating with colleagues can be problematical as he does not have

an ear for languages.

As to his future following the SBS merger, he won’t be drawn. ’I am

fully consumed by today’s challenge,’ he says. Hilary Curtis

The Klinkhammer File

Education Studied business administration at Ryerson University

Career history After graduating worked for Procter & Gamble and then

Maclean Hunter 1974 Vice-president and general manager, Chum Ltd,

founders of City TV 1983 Chief executive, Cable net

1984 President and chief executive, First Choice Communications

1990 President, Imax

1999 President and chief executive, CME


Chief Executive

Vivendi, France

The man they call ’J2M’ is widely believed to be the only contender

capable of taking on the might of Rupert Murdoch in European


At the end of July, Messier’s company, Vivendi, bought a 15 per cent

stake in the French media giant, Canal+, adding to its existing 34 per

cent holding. Messier simultaneously acquired Pearson’s and Granada’s

shares in BSkyB for pounds 408 million and pounds 417 million

respectively, giving Vivendi control of 24.5 per cent of Murdoch’s


Vivendi is France’s largest private-sector employer, with a turnover of

pounds 21 billion a year. Messier joined the French utility company,

Compagnie Generale des Eaux, as Vivendi was then called, in 1994,

declaring that he would become its chairman. A year later, he achieved

his aim, having ousted the former chairman, Guy Dejouany.

In the space of five years Messier has turned Vivendi into a media

giant, by embracing cable and telephony and striking an internet

alliance with America On-Line and Bertelsmann AG. Through Havas, its

advertising subsidiary, the company now controls some of the country’s

biggest marketing budgets and its share price has trebled in three


As Vivendi has evolved, so has the ’J2M’ tag. It is currently ’J6M’,

which, with six ’m’s, apparently stands for ’Jean-Marie Messier myself,

master of the world with Murdoch in my grip’. A fellow student at the

elite academy that Messier attended (along with six of France’s past

eight prime ministers) recalls: ’He was first everywhere - from

breakfast to exams.’

Edouard Balladur, the former prime minister to whom Messier was an

adviser, says he remembers him possessing ’a calm, an aplomb and a

strength of conviction abnormal in one so young’. A business

acquaintance describes him as ’crafty, more of a Renaissance cardinal

than a corporate hatchet man’.

Another observer says he is ’mesmerising’, which, the source says, ’is

all the more dangerous because he looks like a teddy bear’.

Messier is neutral in his politics, but obsessed with his profile on

both sides of the political divide. For his 40th birthday three years

ago, he threw ostentatious receptions for 200 of his closest friends and

associates, which included France’s president, Jacques Chirac, and its

prime minister, Lionel Jospin.

As for dominating Europe, observers predict a merger of Canal+ and BSkyB

in the next two years, depending on how much control Messier


A European securities analyst describes Messier as ’a chess master’ and

warns: ’Murdoch can kiss goodbye to giving the jewels in the crown of

his broadcasting empire to his kids.’ Hilary Curtis

The Messier File

Education Ecole Polytechnique; Ecole Nationale d’Administration

1994 Adviser to prime minister Edouard Balladur

1995 Joined Compagnie Generale des Eaux

1996 Chairman of Compagnie Generale des Eaux/Vivendi


Chief Executive and President

CLT-Ufa, Luxembourg

Remy Sautter sits at the helm of Europe’s largest broadcasting and

production company, CLT-Ufa. His vision is to build the company’s future

on free-to-air commercial television and become a key player in the

acquisition and distribution of lucrative TV programme rights.

Since CLT’s merger with Ufa, the German company, in 1997, Sautter has

worked on consolidating the core businesses of the two operations, which

are television, radio and online. In May 1999, Sautter’s co-chief

executive, Rolf Schmidt Holz, sold the company’s 45 per cent stake in

Premiere, the ill-fated German digital pay-TV venture. This allowed the

company to buy the rights to studio blockbusters such as Jackie Brown,

as well as the rights to Formula One Grand Prix.

To know Sautter, it seems, is to admire him. Dan Arendt, executive

vice-president of CLT-Ufa, describes him as ’a true European manager’.

Dawn Airey, director of programming for the UK’s Channel 5 (in which

CLT-Ufa holds a 29 per cent stake), calls him ’debonair and


CLT-Ufa has seen a DM57 million (pounds 19 million) loss in 1996 turned

into a DM250 million (pounds 83.6 million) profit in 1998. Sautter has

publicly declared that the company’s 1999 year-end results will show a

net profit of more than pounds 65 million. Building on the core business

and expanding into new areas is also part of his strategy and he has

confirmed that he would be interested in an acquisition in free TV or

production in the UK, ’if the opportunity arose’. Hilary Curtis

The Sautter File

Education Studied law and political sciences at the Institute for

Political Science in France

1975 Finance attache to the French Embassy, Washington DC

1977 Manager, Caisse des Depots, Paris

1981 Consultant to the French defence secretary

1983 Financial director, Havas 1985 Executive vice-president, RTL Radio

1989 Chief executive, CLT’s radio business area in France

1996 Chief executive, CLT

1997 Chief executive, CLT-Ufa