The Commission's antitrust chief Karel van Miert said he had agreed a compromise with German media tycoon Leo Kirch and Deutsche Telekom, two of the partners in the deal, but that Bertelsmann, the third key player, had rejected making any further concessions to win EU approval.
"The Commission has just unanimously decided to ban the venture of Deutsche Telekom, Bertelsmann and the Kirch group. That means a formal decision has today been taken," Mr Van Miert told a news conference.
"A final attempt was made to try and reach a solution that would meet our concerns regarding competition. I went as far as to make a verbal proposal that was agreed by Mr Kirch, but totally refused by Bertelsmann."