Murdoch makes German TV move - Media - News - The Independent

Murdoch makes German TV move

Digital deal will give media magnate breakthrough into mainstream European broadcasting

RUPERT MURDOCH seems at last to be on the verge of making a breakthrough into television in mainland Europe.

RUPERT MURDOCH seems at last to be on the verge of making a breakthrough into television in mainland Europe.

The magnate is in talks with Leo Kirch, the German media baron, to buy a 25 per cent share in Premiere, Germany's sole digital television company.

The discussions with KirchMedia follow a series of disappointments for Mr Murdoch in Europe. Deals with leading European media groups such as Germany's Bertelsmann have been announced only to founder shortly afterwards. Most recently, a second attempt to secure Silvio Berlusconi's commercial television interests failed.

Mr Murdoch's problems in Europe were underlined by the resignation of Letizia Moratti, chairman of News Corp Europe. Mrs Moratti, one of Italy's most successful businesswomen, claimed last week that Mr Murdoch had the wrong approach to the European market.

She said: "You can't enter Europe without being European. You need to act as a real European entrepreneur."

Dealings between Mr Murdoch and Mr Kirch have been particularly fraught. Last year, an agreement between the two men over Premiere fell apart because of disputes over management control. Bertelsmann, the German media giant, stepped in by injecting its digital interests into Premiere - thereby excluding News Corp.

But this alliance fell foul of the German anti-trust authority, the Kartellamt, and Bertelsmann was forced to sell most of its holding in Premiere.

Now Mr Murdoch has a chance to revive a deal with Mr Kirch on his terms. Premiere, in which KirchMedia holds a 95 per cent stake, has lost DM4bn (£1.3bn) since its launch. Two weeks ago, New York bankers refused KirchMedia a $2bn (£1.2bn) loan to fund further start-up losses at Premiere. On current form, Premiere looks a very high-risk investment. It is competing with more than 20 free channels and KirchMedia has been forced to share its digital set-top boxes with these competing channels.

Meanwhile the attempt to use World Cup soccer to boost Premiere has turned into a fiasco. The German public was outraged that it might have to pay to view the World Cup in 2002 and 2006 after KirchMedia acquired the sole screening rights. The company has now promised that all World Cup games involving Germany would be transmitted live by free-to-air channels.

Despite these problems, KirchMedia claims Premiere has attracted 1 million digital subscribers and that heavy marketing is beginning to increase subscriptions rapidly.

Mr Murdoch has long sought a deal with Mr Kirch that will give him a big media presence in Germany. As the pre-eminent owner of German rights to Hollywood films, Mr Kirch plays a vital role throughout German television. He also owns controlling stakes in five free-to-air channels, including Pro Sieben, the most profitable German television company, and an interest in Springer Verlag, which publishes Bild and Die Welt.

He also has interests in Mediaset in Italy and Telecinco in Spain. By contrast, Mr Murdoch's position in Germany is weak. He owns a 49.9 per cent stake in Vox, a television company with a 3 per cent market share, and he has recently launched tm3 - a free-to-air cable channel that is being boosted by coverage of Champions' League football games.

Much now depends on Mr Kirch's finances. On Friday, KirchMedia announced that it was rationalising its television holdings. Mr Kirch's son, Thomas, has transferred his controlling interest in Pro Sieben to KirchMedia. This looks like a prelude to a flotation or a deal or possibly both.

News
John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'That was the lowest I’d ever felt'
Life and Style
healthIt isn’t greasy. It doesn’t smell. And moreover, it costs nothing
News
peopleThe report and photo dedicated to the actress’s decolletage has, unsurprisingly, provoked anger
Property
Home body: Badger stays safe indoors
property
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
The programme sees four specialists creating what they believe are three perfect couples, based on scientific matchmaking. The couples will not meet until they walk down the aisle together
tvUK wedding show jilted
Arts and Entertainment
US pop diva Jennifer Lopez sang “Happy Birthday” to Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, president of Turkmenistan
musicCorporate gigs become key source of musicians' income
Arts and Entertainment
You've been framed: Henri Matisse's colourful cut-outs at Tate Modern
artWhat makes a smash-hit art show
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig believed to be donning skis as 007 for first time
Sport
Mikel Arteta pictured during Borussia Dortmund vs Arsenal
champions league
Voices
Yes supporters gather outside the Usher Hall, which is hosting a Night for Scotland in Edinburgh
voicesBen Judah: Is there a third option for England and Scotland that keeps everyone happy?
Arts and Entertainment
Pulp-fiction lover: Jarvis Cocker
booksJarvis Cocker on Richard Brautigan
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke and Pharell Williams in the video of the song, which has been accused of justifying rape
music...and he had 'almost no part' in writing it
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Head of Marketing - London

Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Interim Head of Marketing / Marketing Manager / Dig...

Brand Manager / Account Manager

£28 - 36k (DOE): Guru Careers: A Brand Manager / Senior Account Manager is nee...

Sales Executive

£20 - 24k (Uncapped Commission - £35k Year 1 OTE): Guru Careers: We are seekin...

Director of Programming and Industry Engagement

£40k - £50k depending on experience: Sheffield Doc/Fest: Sheffield Doc/Fest is...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week