* CEO Ebeling to step down next month
* No headhunter hired for external search - sources
* Conrad Albert has been general counsel since 2006 (Adds background)
MUNICH, Jan 19 (Reuters) - Management board member Conrad Albert is emerging as the most likely candidate to become the next chief executive of beleaguered German broadcaster ProSiebenSat.1 Media, sources said, a month before Thomas Ebeling steps down.
Several sources familiar with the matter said that Albert, who has been general counsel at ProSieben since 2006, was best placed to land the top job. One said the company had not hired a recruitment consultant to conduct an external search.
ProSieben declined to comment. The company is due to announce its annual results on Feb. 22.
Ebeling announced in November that he would step down, ending an eight-year tenure that was ultimately marred by several results misses and an ill-advised remark in which he called ProSieben’s viewers “a bit fat, a bit poor”.
He has, however, continued to lead a shake-up of ProSieben into divisions spanning entertainment, content production and commerce, potentially making it harder for an outsider to put their own stamp on the business.
Albert was named by ProSieben’s supervisory board as deputy CEO when Ebeling resigned.
Company sources say Albert gave a speech at a recent staff meeting, held in the absence of Ebeling, at which he offered reassurance on ProSieben’s future. Some present took the speech to mark a claim to lead the company.
Albert, 50, is viewed as being close to Ebeling and is the longest serving executive on ProSieben’s executive board. In addition to legal and policy affairs, he is in charge of buying programme content and building partnerships with industry. (Reporting by Joern Poltz and Arno Schuetze; Writing by Douglas Busvine; Editing by Maria Sheahan)