Broadcaster CME names new chairman after founder's resignation

PRAGUE, April 15 Tue Apr 15, 2014 10:38am EDT

PRAGUE, April 15 (Reuters) - Central European Media Enterprises (CME) named John Billock as its new non-executive chairman to replace billionaire founder Ronald Lauder after he stepped down last month, it said on Tuesday.

Billock is a former executive for CME's main shareholder Time Warner. CME also appointed three others with Time Warner ties - Gerhard Zeiler, Iris Knobloch and Doug Shapiro - to the board.

The change is the loss-making central European broadcaster's latest move to revamp its business in a bid to regain lost customers and cope with weaker advertising revenue caused by sputtering economies in the six markets in which it operates.

"The depth of operational and strategic experience they bring will be invaluable to the Company and its shareholders as we strive to maximize the value of our leading brands," CME co-Chief Executives Michael Del Nin and Christoph Mainusch said in a statement of the new appointees.

CME is going through the toughest period of its two-decade existence after many customers in its biggest market, the Czech Republic, rejected a higher pricing strategy meant to regain income lost in a slumping TV advertising market.

In February, it said it had agreed a deal with Time Warner , which bought into CME in 2009, to raise new debt and issue share warrants to help cover the company's financing needs. It plans to raise up to $545 million in new debt as part of a debt refinancing. (Reporting by Jason Hovet; Editing by Mark Potter)

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