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EM.TV & Merchandising AG and Sesame Workshop Announce Extension of Strategic Alliance.

UNTERFOHRING, Germany and NEW YORK, Dec. 4 /PRNewswire/ --

EM.TV & Merchandising AG ("EM.TV"), one of the world's leading media, animated cartoon and retail companies, and Sesame Workshop, a non-profit educational organization best known as the creators of "Sesame Street," today announced an important set of agreements that modify their long-standing and continuing strategic and economic relationship. The agreements, financial terms of which were not disclosed, are expected to significantly enhance the ability of the two enterprises to achieve their respective organizational missions.

Since 1969, The Jim Henson Company ("Henson"), a wholly-owned subsidiary of EM.TV, has provided puppeteer and puppet-building services for Sesame Street worldwide. Henson has held the underlying rights to these characters, which are developed in cooperation with Sesame Workshop (formerly known as the Children's Television Workshop), the producer of Sesame Street.

Under the terms of the agreements announced today, Sesame Workshop will acquire, in perpetuity, complete control over the rights of all Sesame Street characters and Henson's interest in the Noggin cable channel. Previously, those rights were jointly controlled by Henson and Sesame Workshop, and many operational matters required the approval of both companies.

In addition, EM.TV and Sesame Workshop, for the first time, have entered into a long-term television development agreement under which they will work to co-produce two new series per year for each of the next five years, on terms designed to maximize each company's geographic and organizational strengths. Under another of the new long-term agreements being entered into, EM.TV will expand its role in Europe as the exclusive merchandising representative for Sesame Street.

Thomas Haffa, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of EM.TV & Merchandising AG, said: "This win-win agreement builds upon the very successful partnership established and nurtured over many years by The Jim Henson Company and Sesame Workshop. For EM.TV, it represents an attractive opportunity to forge a long-term strategic relationship of our own with Sesame Workshop. EM.TV will also benefit from the new co-production arrangement and the planned expansion of Sesame Street's merchandising representation in Europe, both of which could represent, for us, significant long-term revenue and earnings opportunities."

Gary Knell, President and Chief Executive Officer of Sesame Workshop, said: "This agreement will strengthen our relationship with EM.TV and, most importantly, will establish Sesame Workshop, for the first time, as the sole master of our organizational destiny, by solidifying our control over our most treasured asset, the Sesame Street characters. Under this deal, we will reduce the need to pay licensing fees and eliminate the inherent risk of an eventual transfer of the rights to those characters to a third party. We thus regard this as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that makes compelling long-term strategic and economic sense; that will enable us to actively pursue new opportunities to achieve economic self-sufficiency in ways consistent with the long-term educational equity Sesame Street represents; and, most important, that will enhance our ability to continue our mission of helping to educate pre-school children around the world."

Charles H. Rivkin, President and Chief Executive Officer of The Jim Henson Company, said: "We at Henson welcome this agreement as the beginning of an important new phase in our long and mutually beneficial relationship with our friends at Sesame Workshop. The agreement simplifies what has always been a successful but rather complicated business relationship, in which we and Sesame Workshop jointly owned and managed the Sesame Street characters and brand. Going forward, we will not only expand our production relationship, but we will also be able to remain involved in the wonderful Sesame Street series by continuing to provide our unique brand of puppets and puppeteer services to the show."

Established in 1989 by Thomas Haffa, Chairman and CEO, EM.TV & Merchandising AG has developed into a leading international media company. The company is active in the production of children's and family programs, worldwide distribution of TV rights, and marketing of merchandising rights and major international events. EM.TV is the world market leader in family and children's programming and the European market leader in merchandising. The portfolio of EM.TV comprises approximately 28,500 half-hour episodes, which are marketed nationally and internationally under the brand Junior.

Sesame Workshop is a non-profit educational organization committed to maximizing the power of media as an educational force in the lives of all children. Its products include television, online, CD-ROMS, magazines, books, film, community outreach, and licensing. Best known as the creators of Sesame Street -- now in its 31st season on PBS -- the Workshop produces programming that has been enjoyed in 148 countries, including 20 co-productions reflecting local languages, customs, and educational needs. With Sony Pictures Family Entertainment, the Workshop recently launched Dragon Tales on PBS. Several of the Workshop's earlier award-winning programs, including The Electric Company, 3-2-1 Contact, and Square One TV, can now be found on Noggin, the new 24-hour-per-day kids' thinking channel, a joint venture between the Workshop and Nickelodeon. Find the Workshop online at http://www.sesameworkshop.org, http://www.sesamestreet.com and http://www.stickerworld.org.

Established in 1958 and headquartered in Los Angeles (Hollywood), with offices and production facilities in New York and London, The Jim Henson Company, a wholly-owned subsidiary of EM.TV & Merchandising AG, is one of the world's best known producers of family entertainment, and effectively owns the rights to many of the world's premier family entertainment brands. The company's library comprises more than 450 hours of programming and includes famous series, TV movies and specials such as The Muppet Show, Jim Henson's Muppet Babies, Fraggle Rock, numerous Muppet movies and the recent international successes Bear in the Big Blue House and Farscape.
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Dec 4, 2000
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