German TV boss to leave job after calling viewers 'fat and poor'

Thomas Ebeling, the chief executive of the channel known for its reality TV shows, swiftly came under fire for the comment.
Thomas Ebeling, the chief executive of the channel known for its reality TV shows, swiftly came under fire for the comment.PHOTO: REUTERS

BERLIN (AFP) - The boss of major German television channel will leave his post earlier than expected, the company said Sunday, after he sparked anger by describing core viewers as "a bit fat and a bit poor".

"Thomas Ebeling will leave the company after the first financial results press conference on February 22, 2018," the private channel, ProSiebenSat.1, said in a statement.

"The agreement was made today between the chief executive and the supervisory board." No reference to the disputed comments was made in the statement.

But German media reported that Ebeling was forced out.

During a recent conference with financial analysts, Ebeling said: "There are people who are a bit fat and a bit poor, who like to sit back on the couch and be entertained. That's a core target group that has not changed." The chief executive of the channel known for its reality TV shows swiftly came under fire for the comment.

He had sought to defuse the row by explaining that he "did not wish to discredit viewers".

Ebeling has also been under pressure over falling viewership and advertising revenues.

Chief executive of the group since 2009, Ebeling was originally due to step down in 2019.