Management Problems Stymie Polish Shopping Channel

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LONG BEACH, CA -- World Shopping Network Plc., London, discontinued its home shopping programming in Poland last month, but plans to re-launch the channel in June. The company, which began airing the channel in September, was mired in difficulties with its Polish management team.

"We had some problems on a lot of levels, mostly in our staffing," said Robert Blagman, a majority owner of World Shopping during last month's NIMA conference here.

"We decided to take it off the air for a couple months and weed out people before staffing up and going back on the air again."

No programming now appears on the satellite channel, which has been running a test pattern since last month. World Shopping had planned to invest about $2 million in the Polish operation and grow its viewership to 3 million households during the first two years.

Blagman said he found a new investor, Beechtree Capital in New York, to commit another $5 million to the company. Meanwhile, Blagman said he is in the early stages of setting up another home shopping operation in Romania, which would extend the company's reach from Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

He won't be alone in the Romanian market, however. Studio Moderna Doo., the infomercial marketing company in Ljubljana, Slovenia, is planning to begin airing infomercial programming there this month following expansion into Hungary and Bulgaria during the last couple of months.

"We're going to reach 80 million people throughout Central and Eastern Europe," said Branimir Brkljac, executive vice president of the company. "With the expansion into Romania, we'll have a total of eight distribution centers and 15 TV stations airing infomercial programming."

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