Thilo Kleine has been fired as managing director of leading German television production group Bavaria Film amid a product placement scandal that has shaken Bavaria and its pubcaster parent ARD.


COLOGNE, Germany (The Hollywood Reporter) -- Thilo Kleine has been fired as managing director of leading German television production group Bavaria Film amid a product placement scandal that has shaken Bavaria and its pubcaster parent ARD.

Kleine is accused of having known about the illegal product placement deals that Bavaria production subsidiaries made with German companies but doing nothing to stop them.

Product placement is illegal on German television unless specifically labeled as such. But an investigative report in German media journal EPD in June revealed that, for years, several Bavaria-produced shows have been slipping hidden advertising onto high-profile shows.

"The trust of Bavaria's shareholders in [Kleine] has been permanently damaged," Bavaria said in a statement July 14.

An investigation is currently under way to determine if criminal or civil charges can be brought against Kleine for his alleged involvement in the scandal.

German tax authorities searched Kleine's Bavaria offices the week of July 11, though the Munich-based TV group said the raid was not connected to the product placement scandal.

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