Red Bull founder and Formula 1 team owner Dietrich Mateschitz is set to pull the plug on his private TV channel ServusTV by the end of June.
Mateschitz has cited the financial burden of running the station as “unbearable” after spending a minimum of €100million per year since it was founded in 2009.
Another factor behind the surprise move is a claim by Mateschitz of the recent circulation of an email “outside ServusTV” asking employees to vote internally on the formation of a representation of employees supported by unions, the latter much disliked by the 71-year-old.
Just a few weeks ago, Mateschitz assured the 264 employees of the company’s future within Red Bull Media House in Salzburg. In February, ServusTV signed a three-year contract with Dorna to televise MotoGP live in Austria, and just last month the station also extended its contract with the Austrian Ice Hockey League (EBEL) for a further three years through to 2018-19, with an option to continue until 2021. The future of both deals is now unclear.
“Despite having invested nearly a three-digit million euro amount into Servus TV year after year, no really positive development can be expected in the current market and competition situation seven years after launch,” according to a statement. “The channel has therefore become economically unsustainable for our company. In compliance with the diligence of a prudent businessman, we have decided to close down the operation of Servus TV. The changes in the global media market support us in our decision as digital offers push away classic linear channels.”